The Council of the European Union, a gathering of the bloc's ministers, has approved the signing of four open skies agreements, including neighbourhood agreements with Armenia, Tunisia, and Ukraine, and an air transport agreement with Qatar.

The agreements will, in principle, fully liberalise the air transport market between the bloc and the four respective countries, allowing carriers to add new routes without any restrictions on the number of flights, capacity, or destinations. Since the agreements treat the entire EU as a single market, they will, in practice, also grant all EU carriers fifth-freedom rights to operate from any EU country to the four non-EU signatories.

The four non-EU signatories agreed to apply EU safety and security standards. The neighbourhood agreements with Ukraine and Armenia are signed under the umbrella of the Common Aviation Area, which also includes Moldova and Georgia, while the agreement with Tunisia is covered by the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement akin to deals with Morocco, Jordan, and Israel. The three agreements effectively ensure that the non-EU signatories will adhere to all EU rules concerning state aid, environmental standards, and other legal norms governing commercial aviation.

In turn, the agreement with Qatar "upgrades" the standards but does not impose EU rules on the Gulf country. It is nonetheless the first bilateral air services agreement signed between the EU as a whole and a Gulf country.

The decisions on Ukraine, Armenia, and Qatar enable the application of the agreement on a provisional basis, pending the completion of the procedures necessary for its full entry into force. The agreement with Tunisia is not conditional. All four agreements have yet to be ratified by all 27 members of the EU (who have various procedures but usually base their ratification on a parliamentary vote), the union as a whole, as well as the non-EU parties. The final signing of the ratified agreements is expected in autumn 2021.