Help Print this page 

Summaries of EU Legislation

Title and reference
Integrating the environment into aerial transport

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
Languages and formats available
HTML html ES html DE html EN html FR
Multilingual display

Integrating the environment into aerial transport

The Commission evaluates ways of improving the environmental performance of activities linked to air transport in order to offset the environmental impact of growth in this sector.


Communication from the Commission of 1 December 1998 to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Air Transport and the Environment [COM(1999) 640 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


Globally, air transport contributes to the greenhouse effect and to the depletion of the ozone layer. Regionally, it contributes to acidification, ozone formation and eutrophication. Locally, in the vicinity of airports, air transport is partly the cause of noise and air pollution.

This communication sets out the strategy the European Union is to pursue to put in place a coherent and environmentally friendly policy in the field of air transport.

The pillars of the strategy

The first pillar of the strategy proposed in the communication is the improvement of technical environmental standards on noise and gaseous emissions. One example of practical action is the improvement of air traffic management systems, which should allow a major saving in fuel consumption.

The communication also proposes the introduction of economic and regulatory market incentives to enhance the competitive edge of operators and users which choose to use state-of-the-art technologies and environmentally friendly operations. The Commission will work to integrate environmental costs into charging systems and to improve the infrastructure at intermodal connecting points so that users and operators can actually choose more environmentally friendly services.

Another pillar indicated in the communication is environmental protection measures to be applied in airports. Under this pillar of the Community strategy, various action is proposed to assist airports, limit noise and link airports to other modes of transport.

The communication emphasises the need to encourage research and innovation relating to the environmental performance of aircraft, including assessment of the atmospheric effect of aircraft exhaust gas emissions. A long-term strategy of this nature is essential.

The communication invites the air transport industry to sign voluntary environmental agreements and to register under the EMAS scheme.

The Commission underlines the importance of adopting international solutions within the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).


Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 27 September 2005: Reducing the Climate Change Impact of Aviation [COM(2005) 459 - Not published in the Official Journal].

The Commission considers the options available for reducing the impact of the air transport sector on climate change. In particular, it suggests - in addition to pursuing the possibilities offered in research, air traffic management and energy taxation - integrating the air transport sector into the Community Emissions Trading Scheme.

Directive 2002/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 March 2002 on the establishment of rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at Community airports [Official Journal L 85 of 28 March 2002].

The purpose of this Directive is to prevent an overall increase in noise and to seek to reduce aircraft noise in order to improve the current acoustic environment, in particular by gradually phasing out the noisiest aircraft.

Communication [COM(2000) 821 final - Not published in the Official Journal]. Communication from the Commission to the Council: Community objectives for the 33rd Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and ICAO Council decisions prior to this Assembly in the field of environmental protection. The communication sets out the following Community objectives:

  • deal with the impact, in terms of noise pollution, of the increase in demand for air transport: the Community will seek the adoption both of a resolution on limiting the operation of the least noise-efficient aircraft, and of a more stringent noise standard for aircraft;
  • introduce more stringent standards for all gaseous emissions from air transport;
  • strengthening economic incentives to improve the environmental performance of aircraft.

The 33rd ICAO Assembly was held in September 2001.

See also

For further information, please consult the website of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy and Transport.

Last updated: 23.11.2007