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Document 52009AE0044

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations (EC) No 549/2004, (EC) No 550/2004, (EC) No 551/2004 and (EC) No 552/2004 in order to improve the performance and sustainability of the European aviation system

OJ C 182, 4.8.2009, p. 50–55 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV)

4.8.2009   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 182/50


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations (EC) No 549/2004, (EC) No 550/2004, (EC) No 551/2004 and (EC) No 552/2004 in order to improve the performance and sustainability of the European aviation system’

COM(2008) 388 fin — 2008/0127 (COD)

‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 in the field of aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services and repealing Council Directive 06/23/EEC’

COM(2008) 390 fin — 2008/0128 (COD)

(2009/C 182/11)

Rapporteur: Mr KRAWCZYK

On 4 September 2008 and 18 July 2008 respectively, the European Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 80(2) of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations (EC) No 549/2004, (EC) No 550/2004, (EC) No 551/2004 and (EC) No 552/2004 in order to improve the performance and sustainability of the European aviation system

COM(2008) 388 fin — 2008/0127 (COD)

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 in the field of aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services and repealing Council Directive 06/23/EEC

COM(2008) 390 fin — 2008/0128 (COD).

The Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 10 November 2008. The rapporteur was Mr KRAWCZYK.

At its 450th plenary session, held on 14 and 15 January 2009 (meeting of 15 January 2009), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 131 votes for and 5 abstentions.

1.   Conclusions and recommendations

1.1   The prompt and encompassing implementation of the Single European Sky (SES), based on the Commission's proposal is a very important strategic step towards further European integration and strengthening of the European common market. It also enhances European social cohesion and social mobility.

The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal as an important action towards truly implementing Single European Sky. This package known as Single European Sky II (SES II) addresses many of the weaknesses which occurred during the implementation of SES I introduced in 2004.

1.2.1   The SES II legislative proposal should therefore not be delayed and the EESC calls on the EU legislator to reach final agreement before March 2009. In order to meet the objectives of the Single European Sky, it is essential for the EU legislator (Council and Parliament) not to dilute the Commission's proposals in this context.

1.3   Above all safety requirements have to be improved in parallel with the increase in traffic.

1.4   The EESC in particular strongly supports:

The proposals related to the performance monitoring framework and binding performance targets provided that performance is assessed on the basis of four key criteria: safety, capacity, the environment and cost-effectiveness.

The broadening of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) scope of responsibility by including safety of aerodromes and Air Traffic Management (ATM)/Air Navigation Services.

The acknowledgement of the importance of the human factor in air safety.

More effort in order to increase the competence of the staff responsible for ensuring safety, application of ‘Just Culture’.

Reformulation of art. 5 of the of the regulation on the provision of air navigation services, which is deleted in the Single European Sky II proposal, so as to permit an extension of the certification system to all staff in the safety chain and primarily ATSEP.

Setting up the deadline in 2012 for Functional Airspace Blocks implementation.

Further enhancement of SESAR and its financing methods.

A strengthening of European ATM network functions.

A reform of EUROCONTROL.

The recognition of airport capacity limitations.

An amendment to art. 18 a — the EESC would not object to a study being carried out provided it is not explicitly aimed at opening these services to competition.

1.5   Optimising European ATM through the SES II implementation will largely contribute to the decreasing of CO2 emissions by the airline industry. Shorter routes may save nearly 5 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Improving both air traffic management and airport operations could reduce emissions by up to 12 % for the average flight, or 16m tonnes of CO2 per year.

1.6   Even though SES II is generally widely supported by various stakeholders there is a strong need for further consultation on the implementation regulations after the approval of SES II. Consultation should be undertaken at each level of the SES II implementation (EU, national and regional) and among social and/or industrial partners/stakeholders.

1.7   The implementation of SES II will provide benefits for citizens and consumers including:

Higher safety levels.

Shorter travelling times.

Better service/performance, including higher reliability and better predictability of the schedule resulting in less lost connections for transfer passengers.

Lower fares due to lower costs for the airlines.

Smaller personal carbon footprints.

2.   Introduction

2.1   The adoption by the European Parliament and the Council of Regulation (EC) No 549/2004 laying down the framework for the creation of the Single European Sky (1), Regulation (EC) No 550/2004 on the provision of air navigation services in the Single European Sky (2), Regulation (EC) No 551/2004 on the organisation and use of the airspace in the Single European Sky (3), and Regulation (EC) No 552/2004 on the interoperability of the European air traffic management network (4) (the first package of the Single European Sky legislation) laid down the legal basis for a seamless, interoperable and ATM system at the European level. The EESC has dealt with the proposed regulations in its opinion issued in 2002 — TEN 080 Action programme/Single European Sky and TEN 098 Implementation of the Single European Sky.

2.2   The massive increase in demand for air transport is straining the capacity of infrastructure: 28 000 daily flights by 4 700 commercial aircraft push airports and air traffic management to their limits. The enlargement of the EU, together with an active neighbourhood policy, has extended the European aviation market to 37 countries with more than 500 million citizens (5).

2.3   The fragmentation of air traffic management hinders the optimal use of capacity and creates an unnecessary financial burden of approx 1 billion EUR on aviation (on average, aircraft fly 49 km longer than necessary). Flight inefficiencies accounted for detours of 468 Mkm in 2007 resulting in EUR 2,4 billion of additional costs for the airline industry. Air traffic flow management delays equalled 21,5 million minutes in 2007 resulting in additional 1,3 billion EUR of unnecessary cost to the airlines and subsequently to their customers.

2.4   In response to a strong demand from industry, Member States and other stakeholders, to simplify and increase the effectiveness of the regulatory framework for aviation in Europe, the High Level Group on the future of the European aviation regulatory framework submitted in July 2007 a report containing a set of recommendations on how to improve the performance and the governance of the European aviation system. This report and the reports of the Eurocontrol Performance Review Commission confirmed that the European Air Traffic Management Network (EATMN) should be designed and implemented with a view to the efficiency, safety and environmental sustainability of the whole air transport network at EU level.

2.5   In December 2007 EASA sent the Commission an opinion concerning aerodromes. Its opinion on air traffic management and air navigation services followed in April 2008, favoured completing the process initiated in 2002 by adding the safety aspects of aerodromes and ATM/air navigation services (ANS) to the tasks entrusted to the EASA.

2.6   The European Commission Communication Package — Single European Sky II: towards a more sustainable and better performing aviation, ref COM(2008) 388, COM(2008) 389/2, COM(2008) 390 was issued on 25 June 2008.

3.   The Commission's proposal (SES II)

3.1   In order to complete the creation of the Single European Sky, it is necessary to adopt additional measures at Community level, to improve the performance of the European aviation system in key areas such as: safety, capacity, flight and cost efficiency and environment within the overriding safety objectives.

The Single European Sky II (SES) consists of four pillars:

The first pillar embraces a system of performance regulation:

a)

Enhancing the performance of the ATM system through the establishment of an independent performance review body which will monitor and assesses the performance of the system. It will develop indicators for the various performance areas and will propose Community-wide targets (i.e. delay, cost reduction, shortening of routes). The Commission shall approve the performance targets and shall pass them on to the national level. The agreed targets will be binding.

b)

Facilitating the integration of service provision through the Commission's support to set up functional airspace blocks by: setting firm deadlines for the implementation (at latest by the end of 2012); extending the scope to lower airspace up to the airport and clearing national legal and institutional obstacles.

c)

Strengthening the network management function through a range of tasks exercised by different actors including: European Route Network Design, Management of Scarce Resources, Traffic Flow Management and Management of the deployment of SESAR's technologies and procurement of Europe-wide infrastructure elements.

The second pillar — the single safety framework:

The competences of EASA have progressively developed since 2002 to cover the fields of airworthiness of aircraft, aircraft operation and air crew licensing. Following this approach the Commission proposes to extend the competence of the Agency to the remaining key safety fields of aerodromes and Air Traffic Management/Air Navigation Services.

The third pillar SESAR — technological and operational part of SES:

Europe must accelerate the development of its ATM system to respond to the challenges and synchronise both airborne and ground deployments. SESAR is meant to increase safety levels by a factor of ten, capable of handling a threefold increase in traffic at half of today's cost per flight. EESC has prepared in 2006 opinion — TEN 232 — giving full support to the implementation of SESAR.

The fourth pillar — managing capacity on the ground:

It will include: better use of existing infrastructure, improved infrastructure planning, promotion of intermodality and improvement of access to airports and the Community Observatory on Airports Capacity.

4.   Specific comments

The EESC strongly supports the Performance Scheme for ANSPs (ref. Art. 11).

4.1.1   The EESC strongly welcomes the proposed Performance Framework (Art. 11 of the framework regulation). The EESC supports the creation of such a performance scheme as an enabler of improved performance. In order to meet the objectives of the Single European Sky, it is essential for the EU legislator (Council and Parliament) not to dilute the Commission's proposals in this context.

4.1.2   The EESC supports the proposed Performance Framework (Art. 11 of the framework regulation), provided that performance is assessed on the basis of four key criteria, namely — in order of importance — safety, capacity, the environment and cost-effectiveness.

4.1.3   It is important that national/regional targets are consistent with network-wide targets and therefore it is essential for the Commission to approve the national (regional) performance plans. This will also require an effective and efficient consultation process at European, regional and national level to ensure that targets and objectives of individual ANSPs are compatible and complementary to SES objectives.

4.1.4   The EESC believes that emphasis should initially be placed on safety, flight efficiency (environment), cost efficiency and capacity (delays) before moving on to the other areas. Target setting must include an appropriate balance between the various key performance areas reflecting the diversity of operations across Europe.

4.1.5   The EESC believes that safety targets can only be set and achieved once incident reporting and safety management systems have been introduced in all European States. Due to different legal systems across Europe, the data currently collected is incomplete. A Just Culture must be implemented in all Member States to ensure open and complete safety reporting.

4.1.6   The EESC believes that a truly independent and appropriately resourced performance review body is required to monitor and assess the performance of the system reporting directly to the European Commission and include provision for an appeals process.

4.1.7   The EESC wishes to stress that the performance review body as well as the National Supervisory Authorities (NSAs) must be independent and separate from the organisations whose performance is assessed (in terms of governance, location and staff). This independence is integral to the credibility of the review process.

4.2   Safety/EASA

4.2.1   The EESC strongly supports the extension of EASA's scope to ATM and aerodrome safety regulation to ensure an integrated approach for safety in Europe. It is essential for the EU legislator not to delay the extension of EASA's scope. This is, in particular, essential to ensure a successful implementation of the SESAR master-plan, which will require a close integration of ground and airborne systems.

4.2.2   It is essential for EASA safety rules to be based on acceptable Regulatory Impact Assessment and for the EU institutions to ensure that adequate public funding is made available to ensure that EASA can build up the required expertise for those additional functions.

4.2.3   The EESC calls on the EU Member States to ensure that a roadmap is developed to phase out the Eurocontrol Safety Regulation (SRC/SRU) activities and to migrate them into EASA. Eurocontrol will have a key role to play during the transition to EASA, but once EASA has built up the competence there is no need to keep the resources at Eurocontrol and therefore a sunset clause needs to be set for all Eurocontrol SRU/SRC activities. In this context, the EESC would like to refer to the successful model used for JAA (FUJA report endorsed by all ECAC DGCAs) which could be extended to the Eurocontrol SRC/SRU functions as well.

4.2.4   The EESC believes that the achievement of Just Culture should be central to the aims of the package including the implementation of Safety Management Systems and incident reporting. The uniform implementation of Just Culture, as endorsed by the High Level Group, is a necessary pre-cursor to the availability of safety statistics. This will enable the proposed performance scheme to reliably monitor safety achievements and to set safety targets.

4.2.5   The EESC calls on the Council and the Parliament to reformulate Article 5 of the regulation on the provision of air navigation services, which is deleted in the Single European Sky II proposal, so as to permit an extension of the certification system to all staff in the safety chain and primarily ATSEP.

4.3   Just Culture, the human factor and staff competence

4.3.1   The EESC regrets that the proposed legislation does not have a fifth pillar relating to Just Culture, the human factor and staff competence. Air traffic management and air navigation services will long remain heavily dependent on the human factor. Thus this factor is closely tied in with maintaining and improving the level of air safety, and particular attention should therefore be paid to the competence of staff responsible for ensuring safety.

4.4   Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs)

4.4.1   The EESC strongly supports the need to introduce a binding date of the end of 2012 the latest for all Member States to implement Functional Airspace Blocks that meet specific performance targets, since the first SES package did not include a deadline for FABs which has resulted in no FAB being established.

4.4.2   In this context, it is essential for the Ministries of Transport and the Ministries of Defence to fully exploit the potential of Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) through improved civil-military and military-military coordination in ATM and consolidation of ATM infrastructures and services.

The EESC supports the wider definition of FABs and the timetable for FAB development. The EESC feels it is important that measures are taken to address the hurdles at national level to FAB implementation including: sovereignty, liability and full integration of the military. Still bottom up approach as one of the principles of FAB implementation should be promoted.

4.4.3.1   With these issues in mind, the EESC is disappointed that the Commission has not followed through with the High Level Groups recommendations concerning a Aviation System Coordinator in order to support FAB development.

4.4.4   The EESC would like to stress that there is a clear need to reduce the number of service providers in European ATM if cost efficiency objectives are to be met. The number of Area Control Centres (ACCs) in Europe will need to be adapted strictly to the operational needs, irrespective of national borders, to make a cost effective Single European Sky.. The EESC would like to stress that there is a need to develop a system for enhanced cooperation between service providers if performance objectives are to be met.

4.4.5   Thanks to technology improvements, together with a reduction of the number of service providers and ACCs, an increase in productivity of the ATM system can be expected. Technological developments (e.g. remote work) and the fact that aviation in Europe is a growth industry, will mitigate much of the impact, including social factors.

4.4.6   Under SES regulation, ANSPs are required to have contingency plans in place for all the services they provide in the case of events which result in significant degradation or interruption of their services. At present all ANSPs duplicate their current ACCs infrastructure. The EESC stresses the importance for ANSPs to focus on solutions which are more efficient and cost effective by first looking for fall back options within existing national infrastructure (other ACCs or military facilities) and anticipate provisions in FAB developments for such contingencies.

4.4.7   The EESC stresses the importance of social dialogue at EU and FAB level when managing the transition.

4.5   Route Charges and Common Projects/SESAR

4.5.1   The EESC does acknowledge the existing difficulty in funding new technologies and incentive programmes. The lack of adequate funding mechanisms is a risk to the deployment of the first SESAR implementation package and the subsequent phases of SESAR deployment. The EESC therefore wish to stress the need for the EU institutions to provide bridge finance to support for SESAR implementation. This is important in order to overcome the transition costs to the new SESAR system. EESC has strongly supported the SESAR project from its very beginning.

4.5.2   The EESC does not support the use of charges to pre-finance common projects as proposed in amendment to article 15 of the service provision regulation which continues to include the concept of using route charges to fund common projects to ‘… assist specific categories of airspace users and/or air navigation service providers in order to improve collective air navigation infrastructures …’.

4.5.3   The EESC welcomes the new operational concepts as described in the SESAR ATM master-plan as the technical/operational complement to SES as a result of the SESAR definition phase. The EESC however would like to stress that a lot more work will be required during the next SESAR phase and the SESAR Joint Undertaking. The EESC therefore welcomes the Council decision to start SESAR's development phase. The EESC stresses the importance for the next SESAR phase to remain user driven and to deliver early benefits.

4.5.4   The EESC welcomes the proposal of the Commission to ban cross-subsidies between en-route and terminal ATM services. However, the EESC is disappointed that the Commission has not proposed a complete ban on cross-subsidy between air navigation services. Since cross-subsidy in general leads to a distortion in competition the problem is not limited to the case of cross-subsidy between en-route services and terminal services but also for those cases where cross-subsidy occurs between either one of these categories in particular between terminal services at different airports.

4.6   Airspace Regulation and Network Management Function

4.6.1   The EESC strongly supports the need for a strong European Network Management and Design in particular with regard to route design, the coordination and allocation of scarce resources (radio frequencies and transponder codes) and other network functions as defined in the ATM master plan. The EESC also would like to outline that the principle of ensuring clear separation between service provision and regulatory activities must apply to network management functions; the service provision functions should be managed by the industry.

4.6.2   It is essential that those functions are carried out at the European level independently from specific interest of individual ANS providers. In particular, the lack of a pan-European approach has led to non-optimised routings resulting in unnecessary fuel burn and avoidable environmental damage.

4.6.3   The EESC is unclear about the need for the implementing rules which shall include consistency between flight plans and airport slots and to necessary coordination with adjacent regions. If the Commission's aim is to stop abuse of current slot rules, which is supported by EESC, than this could be handled within the existing regulatory framework.

4.7   Reform of Eurocontrol

4.7.1   The EESC would like to emphasise the importance of reforming Eurocontrol in line with the text of the Communication (i.e.‘the internal reform of the organisation should align governance structures with the Single European Sky with a view to (i) complying with the requirements for network tasks; and (ii) reinforcing industry involvement in line with the common transport policy’).

4.7.2   The EESC feels that Eurocontrol could continue to deliver expertise to the EU but there is a need for greater transparency regarding its role and how it should be funded. Governmental tasks, in particular, should be funded from public funds. In particular long term research (2020+) should be fully funded through public funds rather than via the en-route charges.

4.7.3   The EESC feels that, wherever possible, Eurocontrol service provision tasks (e.g. Experimental Centre, Institute of Air Navigation Services) should be in competition with other services providers, managed according to market principles and not subsidised from the general Eurocontrol budget/en-route ATM charges.

4.8   The lack of airport capacity is a recognised risk to meeting future performance targets. The EESC welcomes the recognition of the importance of airport capacity and its inclusion as one of the four pillars of SES II and in particular the need to align airport capacity with ATM capacity.

4.9   Ancillary ATM services

4.9.1   While the necessity of providing ancillary ATM services at the highest professional level is out of question, it is important to realise, that their costs nowadays are meaningful. For example, the annual en-route MET costs total an excessive amount of around 300 m EUR.

4.9.2   The EESC requests an amendment to Article 18a, which would imply a long-term restructuring of the sector and opening of certain services to market principles. The EESC would not object to a study being carried out provided it is not explicitly aimed at opening these services to competition. The Committee points out that the overriding objective of this sphere of air traffic control is to ensure air safety.

The sense of urgency that exists among the relevant actors creates an environment that is favourable for the implementation of the changes.

4.10.1   A road map of further steps should be presented by the EC soon after the SES II approval.

4.10.2   A project management team should consist also of experienced change management experts. SES II is also about changing mindsets and culture. If successful, SES II will create sustainable air traffic solutions for the next generations.

Brussels, 15 January 2009.

The President of the European Economic and Social Committee

Mario SEPI


(1)  OJ L 96, 31.3.2004, p. 1.

(2)  OJ L 96, 31.3.2004, p. 10.

(3)  OJ L 96, 31.3.2004, p. 20.

(4)  OJ L 96, 31.3.2004, p. 26.

(5)  Several neighbouring states have decided to enter the European Common Aviation Area to gain a stimulus for growth and employment.


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