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Single European Sky II

The reform of the European air traffic control system aims to meet the challenge of large increases in air traffic expected in the coming years. It also aims to increase security, reduce costs, delays and the impact of air traffic on the environment.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 25 June 2008: “Single European Sky II: towards more sustainable and better performing aviation” [COM(2008) 389 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The reform of the Single European Sky proposed by the Commission is based on four pillars: performance, single safety, new technologies and managing capacity on the ground.

First pillar: regulating performance

The Commission proposes three measures under this pillar:

  • Driving the performance of the air traffic control system: an independent performance review body monitors and assesses the performance of the system and proposes Communitywide targets for delays, cost reduction and the shortening of routes. These objectives are then approved by the Commission and passed on to national supervisory authorities who organise consultations to agree binding national and regional objectives.
  • Facilitating the integration of service provision: the aim is to turn the current initiatives for functional airspace blocks into genuine instruments of regional integration to achieve performance targets. These blocks must be created by the end of 2012 at the latest.
  • Strengthening the network management function: this function completes the performance framework and comprises a range of tasks, including European route network design, slot coordination and allocation and management of the deployment of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) technologies, to be carried out by different actors.

Second pillar: a single safety framework

The Commission stresses that the growth in air traffic, the congestion of air space and aerodromes, as well as the use of new technologies justifies a common approach to the development and application of harmonised regulation in order to improve safety levels in air transport. Following this approach the Commission proposes to extend the competence of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to the remaining key safety fields: aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services.

Third pillar: opening the door to new technologies

The Commission notes that the present air traffic control system is being pushed to its limits, working with obsolescent technologies and suffering from fragmentation. As a consequence, Europe must accelerate the development of its control system by implementing SESAR in order to increase safety levels and traffic control capacity.

Fourth pillar: managing capacity on the ground

The Commission insists that investment is necessary to ensure that airport capacity remains aligned with air transport management capacity and to preserve the overall efficiency of the network. It reiterates the measures proposed in the action plan for airport capacity, efficiency and safety in Europe.

The Community observatory on airport capacity

The Commission will set up an Observatory, composed of Member States, relevant authorities and stakeholders, to exchange and monitor data and information on airport capacity as a whole, as well as to provide advice on the development and implementation of Community transport legislation.


Furthermore, an internal reform of Eurocontrol should align the government structures of this organisation with the Single European Sky. Assuming the reform is effectively carried out, the Commission intends to enhance cooperation with Eurocontrol to implement its policies.


The Commission states that the Single European Sky, created in 2004, has not delivered the expected results in some key areas such as the process of integration within functional airspace blocks, air traffic control, cost-efficiency and the efficiency of the European air network as a whole. Airspace users and passengers pay an unnecessary cost in time, fuel burn and money for the existing inefficiencies.

As a consequence the Commission considers it necessary to amend the four regulations (549/2004, 550/2004, 551/2004 and 552/2004) on the Single Sky to improve aviation performance, to adapt the legislation to changes which have arisen over the last few years and to succeed in creating a unified air space, a truly “Single” Sky.

See also

Last updated: 10.09.2008