24th Mar 2018

New EU drone rules take full flight later

  • Some uses of drones will need a certification, but which ones will be determined later (Photo: NeONBRAND)

EU negotiators reached a provisional deal on new rules for drones on Thursday (30 November) - but decided to leave several details to be determined later.

Representatives of member states, the European Parliament (EP), and the European Commission decided that "a certificate may be required" for some civil uses of drones.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu: 'The rules will ensure safety, security and protection of privacy for EU citizens' (Photo: European Parliament)

The criteria for certification are left open though, and are to be determined through a separate process known as comitology.

The commission will be tasked with drawing up specific criteria determining when drones and their use should be given a stamp of approval.

The deal was reached in the so-called trilogue format, in which negotiators for the three EU institutions meet to thrash out an agreement, often in marathon sessions throughout the night.

According to EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc, talks finished on Thursday at 6:03AM.

As is common in the hours after a final trilogue, public information about the actual details is still scarce.

The EU parliament published a press release saying that once the new regulation is in place, "the design and manufacture of drones will have to comply with EU basic requirements on safety, security and personal data protection".

"EU countries will need to ensure that operators of drones that can cause significant harm to people, i.e. by crashing into them, or present risks to privacy, security or the environment, are registered," the press release added.

"These drones will also need to be individually marked to be easily identified."

Drones that can cause significant harm will be "those that in the case of impact against a person, can transfer energy above 80 joules".

According to two parliament sources, there was "lots of discussion" about how details of the legislation will be determined.

There are two options: through implementing acts and delegated acts. Put simply, delegated acts can be vetoed by the parliament, while implementing acts are adopted without any role for MEPs.

Five percent chance

Two days before the agreement, centre-right MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu told a handful of journalists the chance of a deal was only "five percent", mainly because of the haggling over delegated and implementing acts.

Marinescu, a Romanian from the centre-right European People's Party group, said the proposed regulation was "at the same time technical, but also political – very, very, very political".

It was proposed in December 2015. Talks between the parliament and council took almost a year.

The new bill not only includes the first-ever EU rules on drones, but also expands the mandate of the European Aviation Safety Agency, based in Cologne.

According to MEP Marinescu, one of the difficulties in the file was to convince member states to transfer or share powers with the EU agency.

"It's a matter of power," he said.

"They do not think about safety," Marinescu said describing his view of the national aviation authorities' attitude in the file.

"They do not think about industry, they do not think about passengers, these administrative people. No. They think about their body, their authority. To keep the jobs, to keep the seats and so on."

He said there was also "big opposition" towards changing the name of the agency, from the European Aviation Safety Agency to the more general European Aviation Agency.

According to the Romanian politician, national authorities were blocking that name change "just to keep a difference" between the EU agency and themselves.

One EP source said on Thursday that the old name, European Aviation Safety Agency, will stay in place.

Nevertheless, Marinescu expressed overall satisfaction with the deal.

"The rules will ensure safety, security and protection of privacy for EU citizens," he said in the parliament press release.

EU promises new dawn for drone makers

The EU Commission has promised to help European drone makers conquer world markets, as part of wider efforts to export EU aviation rules.

MEPs and states scrap over lawmaking powers

Stalled negotiations will begin again in Strasbourg over how to determine some procedures in EU lawmaking, which are ultimately about how much power the EU parliament has.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections