News Releases

Murray Demands Halt to Illegal, Unfair Airbus Subsidies in Letter to E.U.

Jun 16 2009

Calls subsidies "trade-distorting," "completely unacceptable," and "a major step in the wrong direction"

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to Ambassador John Bruton, head of the Delegation of the European Commission to the U.S, expressing deep concern over reports that Airbus is seeking $5 billion in additional launch aid from four European Union countries, and urging an end to Airbus subsidies. 

“I am deeply troubled that Airbus is considering pursuing additional illegal, trade-distorting subsidies that have caused adverse effects on the United States aerospace industry,” wrote Senator Murray in today’s letter.  “The message sent by the U.S. government has been clear. Launch aid for the A350, or any other form of preferential financing for Airbus, is completely unacceptable. We will not tolerate another round of subsidies that kill American jobs.”

The subsidies provided to Airbus unfairly distort the international market for aerospace products, and the E.U. is currently facing lawsuits in the World Trade Organization for similar practices.  With reports indicating that the Airbus deal may be closed at the Paris Air Show on June 15-21, Senator Murray is asking that the E.U. demonstrate their commitment to fair trade with the United States by immediately ending discussion of the requested subsidies and blocking any further movement on them.

The full text of the letter follows:

The Honorable John Bruton
European Union
Delegation of the European Commission to the United States
2300 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037

Dear Ambassador Bruton:

On June 8, 2009, Bloomberg News reported that Airbus is seeking approximately $5 billion in launch aid from the governments of France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom (U.K.) to fund the development of the Airbus A350. Reports indicate that the deal could be completed at the Paris Air Show.

Since 1969, the European governments of France, Germany, Spain and the U.K. have supported Airbus’ commercial aircraft development with over $15 billion in launch aid – high risk loans at no- or low-interest, with repayment contingent on the commercial success of the aircraft. The amount of launch aid Airbus has received during the lifetime of the company – if repaid on commercial terms – is well-over $100 billion dollars. 

I am deeply troubled that Airbus is considering pursuing additional illegal, trade distorting subsidies that have caused adverse effects on the United States aerospace industry at the same time the European Union (EU) is being sued in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for such practices.

The message sent by the U.S. government has been clear. Launch aid for the A350, or any other form of preferential financing for Airbus, is completely unacceptable. We will not tolerate another round of subsidies that kill American jobs.

Such action will be viewed by the United States as a major step in the wrong direction and a clear sign that the EU has no interest in pursuing an amicable and fair economic relationship with the United States.

I would like to see a negotiated end to WTO-inconsistent aircraft subsidies, but the commitment of billions of Euros of additional launch aid will, necessarily, make that end much more difficult to achieve.

I strongly urge you to show that the EU is serious about pursuing fair trade practices with the United States by ending any discussion or movement forward with these subsidies.

Sincerely,

Patty Murray
United States Senator