On 3 March 2021, the EEA Joint Committee adopted three urgent COVID-19-related decisions. Of these Joint Committee Decisions (JCDs), one regards veterinary and phytosanitary matters as well as technical regulations, standards, testing and certification to the EEA Agreement. The other two JCDs concern transport matters.
The next formal meeting of the EEA Joint Committee is planned on 19 March. In view of the importance and urgency of the three acts during the ongoing pandemic, the EEA Joint Committee adopted the JCDs by written procedure*.
In order to address the specific circumstances due to the ongoing crisis related to coronavirus disease, the validity of urgent COVID-19 measures on official controls is being extended. The first JCD implements Regulation (EU) 2020/466, which ensures that the EEA EFTA States have the necessary flexibility to perform official controls to safeguard food and feed safety, animal health and welfare during the crisis.
Regarding the transport-related JCD, the Joint Committee adopted Regulation (EU) 2021/250 on airport slot usage requirement. Due to the decline in passenger demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, air carriers have since March 2020 made major changes to their schedules which have resulted in a slot utilisation rate at coordinated airports falling far below the threshold imposed by Council Regulation (EEC) No 95/93. To address this, on 30 March 2020 the European Union adopted an amendment to the Slot Regulation to waive the ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ rule for the summer 2020 scheduling period, ending on 24 October 2020 (Regulation (EU) 2020/459). The temporary waiver was later extended until the end of the winter 2020/2021 scheduling season on 27 March 2021 by Regulation (EU) No 1477. Both acts are incorporated into the EEA Agreement. Regulation (EU) 2021/250 introduces further temporary measures related to airport slot utilisation requirements for the period 28 March 2021 to 30 October 2021. The incorporation of the act into the EEA Agreement will avoid disturbances in the internal market in aviation in the EEA.
Secondly, the EEA Joint Committee adopted Regulation (EU) 2021/267. This regulation extends COVID-19-related measures introduced by Regulation (EU) 2020/698 on specific and temporary measures in view of the pandemic outbreak. This concerns the renewal or extension of certain certificates, licences and authorisations and the postponement of certain periodic checks and periodic training in some areas of transport legislation. The incorporation of the act into the EEA Agreement aims to avoid disturbances in the transport industry in the Internal Market in the EEA.
*Written procedure is used in exceptional circumstances that require swift incorporation of acts into the EEA Agreement.
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