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Brussels, 13 July 2004

Single European Sky: Commission proposes a Community licence for air traffic controllers

The Commission adopted a proposal for introducing a Community licence for air traffic controllers. The decision forms part of the implementing rules of the Single European Sky and will contribute to safety and the cross-border provision of air navigation services. “The proposal for a Community licence for air traffic controllers confirms the Commission’s intention to enhance the regulatory framework for the air traffic management industry, which should be in place before the end of 2004, with an initiative on the working conditions in this sector. It also demonstrates the balanced approach of the Single European Sky package to cover social aspects.” stated Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President in charge of energy and transport.

The adoption of the Single European Sky legislation earlier this year triggered off a range of implementing regulations. Furthermore, this legislation paved the way to the development of a specific proposal for a Community licence for air traffic controllers in order to ensure common qualification levels. It will enable the necessary harmonisation of the current patchwork of national licensing schemes that the existing international standards developed in the framework of ICAO and Eurocontrol have not adequately addressed up to now. Nonetheless the proposal builds on material developed by Eurocontrol and is fully consistent with it, in order to facilitate its integration into national law.

The new Community license aims at harmonising the licensing systems for controllers and promoting the mutual recognition of national licences. This is an important social aspect of the Single European Sky. The proposal will equally reinforce safety levels of air traffic management by introducing common standards for the European training system. Finally a more flexible use of manpower is likely to facilitate the organisation of cross-border service provision and the establishment of functional airspace blocks.

Every link of the licensing chain is regulated: the institutional framework; the conditions for access to the profession; the structure of competences to ensure transparency and comparability; training standards appropriate to the complex and dense European air traffic environment, including linguistic and medical requirements.

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