The European Union yesterday lodged an appeal against the World Trade Organisation's ruling that member states had illegally subsidised Airbus, the aerospace manufacturer. The appeal will challenge the WTO's findings in more than half a dozen key areas - including findings that launch aid investment amounted to export subsidies and that infrastructure provided to the company also represented subsidies. Another strand in the legal arguments put forward by the EU deals with causation. The EU contends that many Airbus aircraft could have been started without any subsidies and therefore it cannot be assumed that any subsidies that may have helped launch aircraft automatically caused damage to Boeing. The EU appeal has been widely expected since the June 30 ruling from the WTO, the international trade watchdog, found that Airbus had received illegal export subsidies from European governments, al-though certain other complaints, raised by the US, were dismissed. Boeing and Airbus have been using the WTO as a means to disadvantage each other for years, by attacking the state financing that underpins almost all aircraft development. A WTO interim panel report resulting from the EU's challenge to support given to Boeing is due by mid-September. EU officials, however, say the dispute is breaking ground in terms of its factual complexity and some of the legal issues at stake. They also say that some of the panel's latest conclusions need to be challenged to avoid setting damaging precedents. "The WTO dispute settlement system rightly allows for appeal to correct any legal errors of the panels. This dispute is too important to allow the legal misinterpretations of the panel to go unchallenged," said Karel de Gucht, EU trade commissioner. In its appeal, the EU is arguing that launch aid investment contracts were neutral with regard to domestic and export sales, and that there was no incentive to Airbus to give preference to exports. It takes issue with the panel's finding that all 21 instances of launch aid granted to Airbus involved below-market-rate interest rates and amounted to subsidies. It says these findings were based on interest rates proposed by the US and applied risk premiums that were too high.