World Trade Organisation claims EU failed to rein in Airbus subsidies

The World Trade Organisation has said the European Union had failed to rein in billions of euro in subsidies to planemaker Airbus, prompting Washington to call for an immediate halt to support to unwind damage to US jobs.

The ruling is part of a series of tit-for-tat transatlantic complaints about aircraft subsidies that together make up the world’s largest trade dispute, still raging after 12 years of bitter arguments.

The WTO said the EU had failed to comply with earlier rulings by the global trade body against all but two of 36 contested measures, including billions of euro of European government loans to Airbus stretching back decades.

The loans were a “genuine and substantial” cause of significant lost sales for its US competitor Boeing, it said. In a blow to Europe’s long-held argument that the most recent Airbus plane, the A350, fell outside the case, the WTO said funding for the jet had been subsidised but rejected US claims it fell into the most toxic category of “prohibited” aid.

The US said Airbus had failed to undo subsidies worth $22bn (€19.5bn), including $4bn for the A350.

European industry officials dispute those numbers, saying they overstate the amount of support at stake within the loans. 

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