Over the last 30 years, the European Union has created the world's largest and most successful example of regional market integration and liberalisation in air transport. The single EU aviation market has been developed through dramatic changes in the economic and regulatory landscape of air transport in Europe to the benefit of consumers and business.
The creation of the single EU aviation market has also had implications for the EU's external aviation relations, leading to the development of the EU's external aviation policy. Closer international relations will not only provide access to new markets, but also allow the EU to ensure high standards of safety and security in international air transport as well as to work with others more effectively to address the impact of aviation on the environment and to safeguard fair competition in an increasingly globalised and liberalised aviation market.
The EU's external aviation policy also aims to overcoming continued fragmentation and restricted market access for the benefit of EU industry and citizens. EU Member States can still negotiate individual bilateral air services agreements, until the Council grants to the European Commission an authorisation for negotiating a Comprehensive EU Agreement. Comprehensive EU air transport agreements replace the bilateral agreements of all EU Member States with a specific third country.