Belfast Telegraph

WTO ruling paves way for settlement in aviation subsidy row

A ruling by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the long-running dispute between the European Union and the United States over state backing for aircraft makers Airbus and Boeing is set to pave the way for a settlement in the case.

In the current action, which is part of a six year long legal battle, the WTO is considering a complaint brought by the EU, which claims that US support for Boeing is anti-competitive.

Earlier this year, the WTO ruled that Europe illegally subsidised Airbus' parent company EADS.

Brussels has appealed against the decision.

"The EU has said all along that only negotiations at the highest political level can lead to a real solution," said the European Commission's John Clancy.

"We hope today's report provides momentum in that direction," explained Mr Clancy.

The latest ruling is only a preliminary decision and as such the details will not be made public.

A spokesman for EADS said, however, that the company expected the WTO to "confirm" that payments made by Washington to Boeing were illegal.

The decision by the WTO is likely to lead to direct talks between the two sides.

The argument between the two sides has been raging for almost six years.

Brussels brought its claim to the WTO in October 2004 on the same day that Washington complained about EU subsidies to Airbus.