Thursday

14th Dec 2017

Focus

EU ministers agree to fast-track 'Single Sky'

  • The EU is moving closer to a single air traffic area (Photo: europa.eu)

EU transport ministers on Tuesday (4 May) agreed to fast-track "Single European Sky" measures aimed at a greater integration of national airspaces, following the recent disruption of air traffic due to the Icelandic ash cloud.

Under the decision, a European air network manager would be put in place before the end of this year in order to facilitate decision-making among the bloc's 27 national authorities.

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.

The new manager would not preempt national sovereignty on opening or closing airspace, however, EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas said during a press conference, noting the "philosophical" question of relinquishing state powers to Brussels, which is always a sensitive matter among member states.

"It was never supposed to be a super-national authority, but a co-ordination mechanism. The final decision will still rest in the hands of member states," he said.

The new body, which was initially scheduled to be in place by 1 January 2011, would help co-ordinate decisions among national air traffic managers.

It could be based at Eurocontrol, the body currently pooling data and facilitating international flights in 38 European countries, including non-EU members Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the Balkan states.

Brussels-based Eurocontrol on Tuesday welcomed the ministers' decision to fast track the "Single European Sky" package, as well as measures aimed at establishing more accurate safety standards as to when volcanic ash makes it too dangerous to fly.

The initial response to the April ash cloud - shutting down almost all of European airspace - has since proved to have been exaggerated, but understandable, since it was an unprecedented situation and since the tolerable levels of ash for an aircraft to fly safely were not known at the time.

Ministers said they wanted "the relevant authorities responsible for flight safety, to develop without delay binding limit values, at EU level, which clearly defines the safety envelope of engines and aircrafts as regards the risk of volcanic ashes."

The EU's own air safety agency (EASA), which has kept a low profile during the ash crisis, will also be bolstered and "assume its new competences, particularly on air traffic management, before 2012."

The French and German ministers also stressed, in separate briefings, the need to have binding rules, based on scientific evidence, as to when a plane can fly or not.

"It's simply not acceptable that every country just does what it wants. We need consistent rules," said German minister Peter Ramsauer. His French colleague Dominique Bussereau called for "an efficient and fast system for managing such a crisis."

Spanish transport minister Jose Blanco, who chaired the meeting, had maps of Tuesday's new volcanic ash cloud spreading over Ireland and Scotland, underlining the risk that aviation chaos could return and hurt Europe during the peak summer travel season.

The Irish minister, Noel Dempsey, could not make it to Brussels for the meeting, as the country grounded flights in the morning due to the fresh plume of debris.

European Transport

Careful transport policy is seen as key to helping the EU on its way to economic recovery. But it needs to take into account two big factors - empty public coffers and environmental concerns. EUobserver turns the spotlight on the latest developments in the sector.

Transport no longer a 'nuisance' policy, Kallas says

EU transport policy has been transformed from being regarded as a 'nuisance' policy to being seen as key to achieving the Union's longterm economic goals, the EU transport chief tells EUobserver.

Brussels to unveil 'core' transport network in September

The European Commission is in September due to publish an overhaul of its approach to achieving the longterm plan of connecting Europe's railways, airports, ports and roads. It is expected to unleash a furious bout of lobbying.

'Whatever we do the pirates have adapted'

The number of pirate attacks off Somalia has increased dramatically in recent years, putting a physical and mental toll on seafarers and provoking a discussion on whether to boycott dangerous waters.

Arctic shipping routes unlikely to be 'Suez of the north'

Shipping and mineral companies are salivating at the prospect of new shipping routes in the Arctic as sea ice begins its global warming-induced retreat. The North Sea Route could be a boon for northern European companies. But caveats abound, not least for the environment.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Estonia completes two out of three priority digital bills
  2. EU countries are not 'tax havens', parliament says
  3. Tech firms' delays mean EU needs rules for online terror
  4. Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU
  5. British PM limps to EU capital after Brexit defeat
  6. US pleads for clarity on Brexit aviation 'black hole'
  7. Tusk migration note prompts institutional 'hysteria'
  8. Migration looms over summit, as Africa pledges fall short