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Brussels, 19 April 2010

Statement by Vice-President Siim Kallas following the extraordinary meeting of transport ministers on 19 April 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to be able to report back to you on the outcome of the meeting of transport ministers today. I will repeat now, as I have repeated throughout the past days the three key principles that guide all the work that we are doing:

  • There can be no compromise on safety.

  • All decisions must be based on scientific evidence and expert analysis.

  • We need more European co-operation to find solutions for this crisis.

The European Commission has worked intensively in the past days -- with the Spanish Presidency, Eurocontrol, industry and national partners -- to facilitate a way forwards. This evening, I an pleased to report that we have made real progress. On the basis of a recommendation agreed unanimously by the national authorities and experts of the 38 Members of Eurocontrol, transport ministers have agreed to intensify European co-ordination and risk assessment of airspace management. The new air control measures come into effect from 0800 CET Tuesday morning. From tomorrow morning on, we should see progressively more planes start to fly. This is good news for Europe's stranded passengers, and good news for the airline industry and other sectors of the economy hard hit by this crisis. It shows that more Europe can deliver real results.

Today with the ministers, the main discussions focused on the safety issues and better co-ordination of airspace. That was the right thing. It is the central issue which holds the key to relief for both stranded passengers and the air industry. There is still a lot of work to be done. The European Commission is working on many fronts to respond to this crisis: on safety; on the economic consequences; on passenger rights.

I am pleased that the Spanish Presidency has agreed to hold another extraordinary Transport Council to discuss in more detail the economic impact of the crisis.

We will also look intensively at passenger issues in the coming hours and days. There has been a request from ministers for the Commission to facilitate measures to help repatriation through different modes of transport. We will do everything we can to co-ordinate measures in that regard.

We will continue to keep you updated as the situation evolves.

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