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19 April 2013

There is no single market without a single European airspace

A single European airspace will not emerge without greater leadership from the European Commission and a better enforcement of EU legislation, said the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) during its April plenary session.

The warning came in the form of an opinion on the Single European Sky II +, which was adopted at the EESC's plenary session following a request from the European Commission.

December 2012 was the deadline for creating nine cross-border functional airspace blocks (FABs), intended to replace the current 27 separate national air traffic control areas, thus paving the way for a single European airspace. However, only two of these are up and running in a truly operational sense, the Danish-Swedish and British-Irish airspaces.

To put an end to the patchy implementation of the SES II legislation, the European Commission must bring infringement proceedings against Member States which failed to enact it and fine them if found in breach of the law, said Jacek Krawczyk, president of the EESC's Employers' Group and rapporteur for the opinion.

“Let us be united in tearing down the remaining walls of self-interest and small-mindedness that are the real stumbling blocks hindering the success of this crucial European integration project”, said Mr Krawczyk.

He also added that Member States have so far been driven more by "national interests rather than EU goals".

Breaking up monopolies

The EESC has come out in favour of opening up ancillary air traffic management services to competition.

Meteorological services, training and communication navigation surveillance services could be better, and more efficient if they were subject to market conditions and tendering procedures, said the EESC.

It also said that the provision of core air traffic management services is far from optimal across the EU. "The wide range of navigational charges in Europe suggests that there is significant potential for lower charges through closer coordination and standardisation in EU air traffic services", said Mr Krawczyk.

However, he said that if the reforms foreseen in the SES II package were to succeed, they would have to be introduced through social dialogue. "If staff members are not fully engaged in the transition process, the risk of failure will increase significantly", said Mr Krawczyk.

There is no single market without the Single European Sky

The EESC sees a single airspace as indispensable to the smooth running of the internal market. “It is intolerable that one of the biggest businesses in Europe is still fragmented,” said Mr Krawczyk.

The completion of the SES will go a long way towards improving the competitiveness and growth of the EU economy by further strengthening the EU's single market, said the EESC.

There is a real danger of global competitors moving in and taking control of Europe’s airspace, with the loss of even more jobs, if the current fragmentation persists, argued the EESC. “European aviation as a whole is at stake,” Krawczyk warned. “The Single European Sky is the only way to guarantee its future. It is too important to fail.”

For more information, please contact:

EESC Press Unit


Tel.: +32 2 546 8207


The European Economic and Social Committee represents the various economic and social components of organised civil society. It is an institutional consultative body established by the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Its consultative role enables its members, and hence the organisations they represent, to participate in the EU decision-making process. The Committee has 344 members from across Europe, who are appointed by the Council of the European Union.


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