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Agreement on the Single European Sky

The Council and the European Parliament meeting yesterday evening in the Conciliation Committee(1) reached an…

The Council and the European Parliament meeting yesterday evening in the Conciliation Committee(1) reached an agreement on the package of four draft Regulations aimed at creating a Single European Sky, introducing common rules on the use of airspace throughout the Community in order to reduce air delays and airspace congestion. This agreement must be now endorsed by the Parliament (majority of votes cast) and the Council (qualified majority voting procedure) for the Regulations to be adopted.

The Single European Sky package contains four draft Regulations: a framework Regulation and three implementing Regulations covering air navigation service provision, organisation and use of airspace and interoperability within the European air transport management network. These legislative proposals aims, in particular, at improving and reinforcing safety, and at restructuring airspace as a function of traffic flow rather than according to national boundaries.

The Conciliation Committee resolved all outstanding issues, most of which concerned military aspects of the Single European Sky and the issue of functional airspace blocks. The agreement reached includes notably:

The framework Regulation establishes general provisions establishing a general framework for the creation of the Single European Sky. The most important issues resolved were:

  • The civil-military cooperation: the text of the Regulation mentions that Member States have adopted a general statement on military issues related to the Single European Sky and that according to this statement, Member States committed themselves to enhance their civil-military cooperation and, if and to the extent deemed necessary by Member States concerned, facilitate cooperation between their armed forces in all matters of air traffic management. It was also agreed to publish this declaration in the Official Journal of the European Community. On the other hand, the Single Sky Committee that will be set up after the entry into force of this Regulation will be in charge of ensuring the appropriate consideration of the interests of all categories of airspace users.

  • Eurocontrol: It will be involved in the preparation of the implementing rules in the field of its competences and on the basis of the mandate agreed by the Single Sky Committee. Representatives of Eurocontrol will be invited to this Committee, if appropriate, as observers or experts.

  • Industry Consultation Body: This body will be composed by representatives of air navigation service providers, associations of airspace users, airports, the manufacturing industry and professional staff representative bodies and it wil advise the Commission on technical aspects of the implementation of the Single European Sky.

The airspace Regulation concerns the organisation and the use of airspace in the Single European Sky. On this basis, the division level between upper and lower airspace is set at flight level 285. In a first stage, it will be established the European Upper Flight Information Region (EUIR). That will imply cooperation between the Commission and the Member States in a process towards a progressive harmonisation of airspace classification. In this context:

  • In order to achieve maximum capacity and efficiency of the air traffic management network, the upper airspace will be reconfigured into functional airspace blocks. The establishment and modification of functional airspace blocks will be competence of Member States concerned, however, they should benefit from the technical advice of Eurocontrol. If there are difficulties for reaching an agreement between Member States with regard to a cross-border functional airspace block, they can bring the matter for an opinion to the Single Sky Committee.

  • Concerning the lower Flight Information Region, the text provides for a report from the Commission by 31 December 2006.

The services Regulation aims at establishing common requirements for the safe and efficient provision of air navigation services in a seamless and interoperable manner throughout the Community. It sets out a harmonised certification system and provides rules for designation of service providers. All the outstanding issues were settled by the Conciliation Committee, notably:

  • The licensing of controllers. The Regulation provides now that as soon as possible after the entry into force of this text, the Commission will present, if appropriate, a proposal on the licensing of controllers. A new recital points out that arrangements will be made to harmonise the licensing systems for controllers in order to improve the availability of controllers and to promote the mutual recognition of licences.

The interoperability Regulation has a double objective. It aims to achieve interoperability between the different systems, constituents and associated procedures of the European air traffic management network, and to promote the introduction of new agreed and validated concepts of operations and technology in air traffic management. An agreement was reached on the date of the transitional arrangements for putting into service the systems and constituents of the European Air Traffci Management Network.

(1) The Conciliation Committee has 30 members: 15 members of the European Parliament and 15 representatives from the Council. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Georgios Dimitrakopoulos, Vice-President of the European Parliament and Mr. Paolo Ugge, Italian Under Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport.

Theodore Koumelis
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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.