Boeing Co CEO Jim McNerney said he was heartened by a World Trade Organization ruling on aircraft subsidies, saying it appeared the findings against his company were not as severe as those against Europe.

A Geneva trade panel issued a confidential interim report in a case brought by the European Union against U.S. federal and state aid for Boeing, in the biggest bilateral trade dispute ever before the WTO.

The report found that Boeing benefited from U.S. federal and state subsidies, but U.S. sources said it was to a much lower extent than its European adversaries had suggested.

It is too soon to determine whether Boeing will challenge the ruling, McNerney told reporters at the White House, where he had just attended a meeting of the President’s Export Council, which he chairs.

“I don’t think we’ve gotten to that point,” he said.

The European Union said it had won a victory against U.S. subsidies for Boeing that it hoped would set the stage for a negotiated settlement that would allow European governments to continue to help Airbus develop new aircraft.

The ruling followed WTO condemnation in June of illegal European subsidies for Boeing rival Airbus, mostly in the form of European government “launch aid” loans.

“What we have heard ... is fairly heartening in terms of the proportionality of things that were found in the case against the U.S. when compared to the case against Europe,” McNerney said.

“There was nothing like direct launch aid that was found in their case found in ours,” he said.

“Launch aid” loans are European government loans that help Airbus develop aircraft. The WTO ruled that past loans were illegal subsidies, although it did not rule on future loans.

Sources on both sides of the dispute agreed that the EU had failed to make a charge stick that Boeing had received “prohibited” subsidies through incentives in Washington, the state that is home to most of Boeing’s commercial production. (Reuters)