The European Union said on Thursday it was asking the World Trade Organization to impose \"counter-measures\" on the United States worth $12 billion a year for illegal subsidies to aerospace giant Boeing. A European Commission statement said the requested measures were \"based on estimates of the damages suffered by the EU due to unfair and biased competition from the US industry.\" Boeing and its European rival Airbus have been at odds since 2004 over the issue of government subsidies, with both having won and lost complaints filed against the other at the WTO. The statement from the EU executive said its request for penalties \"follows the EU\'s assessment that the United States had not lived up to its obligation to remove its illegal subsidies in the aircraft sector.\" The move appears to follow a new chapter this week in the lengthy legal saga between the two global aviation giants. The EU on Tuesday called for new WTO consultations in the case after claiming that Washington had failed to meet a Monday deadline set by the Geneva-based organisation to end illegal subsidies to Boeing. Washington countered the following day by accusing the EU of far greater handouts. \"On the one side we have $19 billion (14.7 billion euros) of illegal financing of Airbus by the EU and on the other side we have $3 billion-$4 billion for Boeing,\" said Michael Punke, US representative at the WTO.