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Traffic management: the creation of the single European sky

This Communication aims to optimise air traffic management and satisfy all airspace users, whether civil or military, airspace being a common asset which should be managed collectively regardless of national borders.


Communication from the Commission of 1 December 1999 to the Council and the European Parliament - The creation of the single European sky [COM(1999) 614 final - Not published in the Official Journal]


The Commission considers that urgent measures are still required to bring air traffic management into line with the Community principle of the smooth operation of the internal market, and ensure the creation of a single European sky.

Airspace congestion is one of the most obvious signs that such action is needed. The delays on many European flights are frequently due to saturated airspace and infrastructure. Measures must be taken to deal with congestion and prevent crisis situations for all users.

In this context, the Commission considers that the creation of a single European sky requires not only joint technical and operational measures, but the collective management of airspace, which should permit a substantial reorganisation of its structures and organisation.

The reorganisation will be based on specific measures:

  • sectors being subdivided and routes established regardless of national borders. This will permit the airspace to be used more efficiently.
  • the division of airspace between civil and military users taking account of the new geopolitical realities and forming part of a consistent and efficient framework.

In making its proposals, the Commission is aware that each action and change depends on the collaboration of all the actors concerned. In particular, Eurocontrol (which currently has 28 members, including all the Community Member States except Finland, which is negotiating accession) should continue to play a vital role in realising the measures, in view of the experience it has acquired. It cannot be excluded, however, that countries which are members of Eurocontrol but non-Member States of the European Union may not wish to be party to the reorganisation.

In this case, the Commission must make suitable proposals for meeting the objectives of the Treaty by other means.

In order to avoid any obstacles which may present themselves in the course of implementing its proposals, the Commission has set up two specific working frameworks:

  • dialogue will be opened with the two sides of industry, as they will be using and operating the single sky,
  • a high-level group will be set up under the chairmanship of the Member of the Commission responsible for transport. The group will bring together those responsible for air traffic management in the Member States and will take account of the proposals for action contained in the Annexes to the Communication.The actions include:- evaluating the performance of the European air traffic management system,- developing the capacity of aeronautical infrastructure,- planning capacity,- developing incentives,- carrying out research and technological development,- standardising systems.

The Commission will present a report in the next 6 months to follow up the implementation of the measures proposed in the Communication.

Last updated: 24.01.2007