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A joint undertaking to develop the new generation European air traffic management system (SESAR)

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A joint undertaking to develop the new generation European air traffic management system (SESAR)

This regulation creates a joint undertaking to ensure modernisation of the European air traffic management system. The joint undertaking brings together European Union (EU) research and development efforts within the framework of the SESAR (Single European Sky Air Traffic Management (ATM) Research) project.


Council Regulation 219/2007 of the Council, of 27 February 2007, on the establishment of a Joint Undertaking to develop the new generation European air traffic management system (SESAR) [See amending act(s)].


Air transport is an important element of European cohesion and the European economy. It contributes EUR 220 billion to European gross domestic product and employs over 3 million people. Air traffic is expected to more than double in the next 20 years and even triple in some regions. However, the equipment and procedures used to manage these traffic flows has changed little and is struggling to keep up with developments.

The current air traffic control systems are close to becoming obsolete and are ill-suited for the rapid, economic and reliable development of aviation in Europe capable of responding to new societal needs:

  • passengers want efficient, affordable and safe transport;
  • respect for the environment is becoming a major constraint;
  • 11 September 2001 showed that planes can be a threat to the safety of the population.

The Single European Sky (SES) is the European Union’s (EU) response to the problem. This initiative was launched in March 2004, making air traffic management (ATM) a competence of the EU. It constitutes an institutional reform of ATM aiming to reorganise the European airspace and to enhance the performance of air navigation services.

An institutional reform, however, is not sufficient to achieve the performance objectives of the SES. A paradigm leap through a technological reform of ATM was also needed. SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) is the technological pillar of the SES and an essential enabler for its implementation. SESAR is composed of three phases:

  • a definition phase (2005-2007), in which the air traffic modernisation plan (or “ATM Master Plan”) has been developed to define the different technological stages, priorities and timetables;
  • a development phase (2007-2016), consisting of research, development and validation activites relating to the new technologies and procedures which will underpin the new generation of systems;
  • a deployment phase (2014-2020), which will see the large-scale production and implementation of the new technologies and procedures.

The SESAR joint undertaking: activities, statutes and financing

This regulation establishes a joint undertaking under Article 187 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to manage the SESAR development phase. It constitutes a public-private partnership, where the EU and Eurocontrol are founding members, that makes it possible to rationalise and coordinate ATM R&D efforts throughout the EU in a deployment oriented approach. The joint undertaking allows leveraging and pooling funding and know-how and reducing fragmentation created by similar national and regional projects and harnessing the skills and innovation capacity of the private sector within appropriate risk sharing arrangements with public entities.

The SESAR joint undertaking is responsible for:

  • organising and coordinating development of the SESAR project, in accordance with the ATM Master Plan;
  • funding the necessary activities, by combining and managing public and private funds;
  • implementing and updating the ATM Master Plan;
  • organising the technical research and development, validation and study work to be carried out while avoiding its fragmentation;
  • ensuring project involvement by stakeholders from the air traffic management sector (service providers, users, professional organisations, airports, manufacturers, as well as the scientific community and institutions);
  • supervising the activities to develop common products identified in the ATM Master Plan and, if necessary, launching specific invitations to tender.

The SESAR joint undertaking, based in Brussels, is an EU body with a legal personality and is being financed by contributions from its members, including private firms. The EU’s contribution comes from the budgets of the framework programmes for research and development and the trans-European networks.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 219/2007



OJ L 64 of 2.3.2007

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1361/2008



OJ L 352 of 31.12.2008

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 219/2007 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.

Last updated: 30.08.2011