WTO did not rule Airbus aid illegal: EU sources

BRUSSELS Fri Sep 4, 2009 2:33pm EDT

An Airbus A380 takes part in a flying display three days before the opening of the 48th Paris Air Show at the Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

An Airbus A380 takes part in a flying display three days before the opening of the 48th Paris Air Show at the Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 12, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Comments that the World Trade Organization on Friday backed a U.S. complaint against European Union aid to plane maker Airbus are wrong and misleading, EU sources with knowledge of the WTO ruling said.

"The ruling is not a black-and-white case. It simply is not a great victory for the United States," one source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"The claim that the WTO ruled that subsidies given (by the EU) to Airbus for their A380 plane were illegal is wrong and misleading."

Reuters reported earlier from Washington, citing a person familiar with the case, that the WTO had ruled that billions of dollars in European loans to help Airbus develop civilian aircraft were an illegal subsidy under world trade rules.

Another EU source said aid given by Brussels to the European plane maker for its A350 aircraft was "not mentioned in the (WTO) report and so would not have to be repaid."

He was speaking after the WTO issued a pivotal, but highly confidential, ruling on subsidies given by the EU to Airbus that stands to impact the global aircraft sector.

(Reporting by Darren Ennis; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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