Single European Sky: MEPs ready to start negotiations

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


European airspace management should be fine-tuned to optimise flight routes, reduce flight delays and cut CO2 emissions, said the Transport and Tourism Committee.

The negotiating mandate on the reform of the Single European Sky rules, adopted by the Transport and Tourism Committee on Thursday by 39 votes to 7 and 2 abstentions, proposes ways to modernise the management of European airspace in order to reduce flight delays, optimise flight routes, cut costs and CO2 emissions in the aviation sector.

Streamline European airspace management

Transport Committee MEPs want to reduce fragmentation in European airspace management and optimise flight routes, i.e. have more direct flights. They support streamlining the European airspace management system by setting up independent national supervisory authorities (NSAs), responsible for issuing air navigation service providers and airport operators with economic licences to operate, as well as implementing airspace management performance plans, to be set by the new Performance Review Body, operating under the auspices of EU Safety Aviation Agency (EASA).

The rules on expanding EASA’s mandate was adopted by 38 votes to 7 and 3 abstentions. The committee also voted in favour to give a mandate for the start of inter-institutional talks by 41 vote to 5 and 2 abstentions.

Greener flights

MEPs on the Transport and Tourism Committee stress that the Single European Sky should follow the Green Deal and contribute to the goal of climate neutrality with up to a 10% reduction in climate-impacting emissions

The Commission shall adopt the EU performance targets on capacity, cost efficiency, climate change and environmental protection for air navigation services, MEPs say. They also suggest that charges levied on airspace users (airlines or private planes operators) for the provision of air navigation services should encourage them to be more environmentally friendly, for example, by promoting alternative clean propulsion technologies.

Open up the market

As MEPs want more competition between air-traffic controllers, they suggest that one or a group of member states should choose air-traffic service providers through a competitive tender, unless it would result in cost inefficiency, operational, climate or environmental loss, or inferior working conditions. The same logic would apply when choosing other air navigation services, such as communication, meteorological or aeronautical information services.

Rapporteurs’ quotes

EP rapporteur Marian-Jean Marinescu (EPP, RO) said: “Europe’s current airspace architecture is built according to national borders. This aviation nationalism means longer flights, more delays, extra costs for passengers, higher emissions, and more pollution. With a truly Single European Sky and a unified European air management system, we would create a new airspace architecture based not on borders but on efficiency. Unfortunately, the position adopted recently by the Council is based on national concerns. Therefore we urge Member States to fly high, so we can finally address the problems of cost, fragmentation and emissions plaguing European aviation”.

The rapporteur on EASA rules, Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D, PL), added: “We strongly believe that the Single European Sky should be quickly implemented to bring more common European standards and procedures between member states. After the COVID-19 crisis, we are ready to boost economic and environmental efficiency in European aviation.”

Next steps

This vote on the Single European Sky rules constitutes the update of Parliament’s negotiating position adopted back in 2014 and therefore reconfirms MEPs’ readiness to start inter-institutional talks with EU Council shortly. The negotiations on the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) rules are expected to start in parallel, after the result of the committee vote is announced in plenary, possibly during the June II or July session.

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