The EU and Qatar have entered a comprehensive air transport agreement with an aim to offer new opportunities and economic benefits for both sides.

The agreement focuses on upgrading standards for flights travelling between Qatar and the EU, as well as creating new opportunities for airports, airline companies and consumers.

According to the new agreement, all EU-based airlines can operate directly from any European airport to Qatar and vice versa for Qatari airlines.

However, EU airports in Belgium, Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands will be subject to a gradual build-up of capacity until 2024.

The two parties have agreed on provisions for open and fair competition to guarantee a level playing field.

EU and Qatar have recognised the significance of social matters and agreed to collaborate on these matters and improve their social and labour laws according to their international commitments.

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EU mobility and transport commissioner Adina Vălean said: “This agreement, the first one between the EU and the Gulf region, is a global benchmark for forward-looking aviation agreements.

“It is testimony to our shared commitment to economically, socially and environmentally sustainable aviation, based on a modern framework covering fair competition and closer cooperation on social and environmental matters.

“This agreement will bring new opportunities, more choice and higher standards for passengers, industry and aviation workers.”

Qatar is thought to be one of the important aviation partners for the EU and in 2019 about 6.3 million passengers are said to have travelled between the EU and Qatar.

The new agreement between the EU and Qatar would create a single set of rules and a space for working together on a variety of aviation issues in the future.

Additionally, it is expected to set a new global benchmark, with both parties committing to an open and fair competition for air services and also to the inclusion of social and environmental protection.

Previously, Qatar and EU executed 26 bilateral agreements, but they do not include provisions on fair competition, or social and environmental issues, which now the Commission believes are key to a modern aviation agreement.