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European Commission - Fact Sheet

Questions and Answers: A new Aviation Strategy for Europe

Brussels, 7 December 2015

What are the main elements of the new Aviation Strategy for Europe adopted by the Commission on 7 December 2015?

The new Aviation Strategy for Europe includes:

  • A Commission Communication, identifying challenges and opportunities to improve the competitiveness of the EU Aviation sector in the years to come, supported by an analytical Commission Staff Working Document;
  • proposal for a revision of the Aviation Safety Regulation to equip the EU's aviation safety system for future challenges; this includes a legal framework for the safe use of drones to pave the way for our industry's success in this promising market;
  • A package of requests to negotiate EU-level Comprehensive air transport agreements with third countries, to ensure the EU industry has the opportunity to be where the growth is.
  • An indicative action plan for the years to come

How will the proposed initiatives bolster the competitiveness of EU aviation?

The proposed initiatives will provide the appropriate framework where all actors of the EU aviation sector can prosper, for instance by profiting from new business opportunities.

Additionally, the Aviation Strategy identifies challenges which are to be addressed by specific actors, or areas where institutional actors have a key role in advancing legislative proposals (passenger rights) or implementing of existing legalisation (Single European Sky) which have a big impact on the competitiveness of the sector.

What is the added value of the new Aviation Strategy?

The Aviation Strategy will – for the first time – create a comprehensive road map towards a more competitive EU aviation sector covering all areas of EU air transport policy. The novelty is therefore in the way challenges are taken on based on a holistic and inclusive approach across the whole aviation sector.

In many cases the right initiatives are in the pipeline already – such as for instance the Single European Sky. The Aviation Strategy therefore does not only come with new legislative and non-legislative proposals to enhance the competitiveness – it will build additional momentum for implementing measures which are already on the table.

The Aviation Strategy calls for coordinated efforts of all the stakeholders involved.

What measures does the Commission propose to safeguard fair competition in EU external aviation relations and reinforce the competitive position of the EU aviation industry?

The Commission supports the objective of ensuring fair and open competition in the aviation sector by:

  • Promoting sound principles of competition enforcement in the Bilateral Air Services Agreements;
  • Promoting Comprehensive EU-level air transport agreements, ensuring fair and transparent market conditions;
  • Considering new measures to address unfair practices from third countries and third country operators.

I am a citizen, what is in the Strategy for me?

If fully implemented, the Aviation Strategy will contribute to safer, shorter, cleaner and cheaper flights and give citizens the possibility to fly to more destinations outside of the EU. More connections mean more air services and more employment to deliver them. Moreover, the introduction of new technologies such as drones should have a positive effect on growth and jobs as new skills and competences such as drone specialists or flight data analysts will have to be developed.

The Commission will also seek to alleviate the burden of security checks on passengers, notably through the use of new technology and by applying a risk-based approach. Furthermore, with third countries providing an equivalent high level of security to that of the EU, passengers and their baggage that have been through security checks at the point of departure can transfer onto a connecting flight without being subject to a second set of checks. This so-called "One Stop Security" is currently applied with the US. Similar arrangements with Canada and Montenegro will come into effect as of 29 February 2016.

I work in the aviation sector, how will the Strategy improve my situation?

The Commission will continue to (1) support social dialogue in civil aviation; (2) strengthen its analysis on jobs and employment in aviation with Member States and open it to interested parties; and (3) bring clarity to the legal framework for highly mobile workers on applicable labour law and competent court, based on objective criteria.

To shape its response, the Commission has taken into account the opinions of a vast number of social partners, including trade unions.

How will European airlines benefit from the Strategy?

Through new comprehensive EU-level air transport agreements, airlines will be able to access new markets, new business and investment opportunities, which ensuring fair and transparent market conditions. The Commission will also issue interpretative guidelines on the application of Regulation 1008/2008 on the ownership and control of EU airlines to bring more legal certainty for investors and airlines alike.

On the internal side, infrastructure and cost efficiency arecritical elements. Not fully achieving the Single European sky would be missing a golden opportunity to reduce the economic impact of Air Traffic Management.

In order to allow for continuity of air traffic management, a minimum level of service in managing European airspace should be ensured, allowing at least for the movement of overflights (flights crossing the airspace of an affected state or area) causing the least amount of disruption to the network. In this respect, the Commission will promote the exchange of best practices between Member States.

How will the Strategy contribute to a better air traffic management?

The aviation strategy highlights air traffic management as a key sector to achieve the goals of sustainable growth for aviation based on accrued performance in terms of quality of air services. Air navigation service providers will evolve towards a more entrepreneurial environment subject to effective economic regulation as advocated by the Single European Sky (SES2+) initiative. They will benefit from the progressive implementation of the SESAR project and the development of network management functions.

How will manufacturers benefit from the Strategy?

The Commission is updating the EU's safety rules, which will enhance the overall efficiency of the system by introducing a risk and performance based approach. The European Air Safety Agency (EASA) will increase its role in supporting competitiveness of the manufacturing industry.

The Commission will negotiate further bilateral aviation safety agreements with aeronautical manufacturing nations such as China and Japan and establish new aviation dialogues with important aviation partners such as India.

As aircraft manufacturing is a global business, it is also important that the adoption of a new international noise standard at EU level is aligned with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

How will the Strategy improve the connectivity of European Member States and Regions?

The Commission will monitor how the EU aviation sector is performing in terms of connectivity, as a measure of the service available to citizens. In this context, we will work closely with the Airport Observatory to monitor trends of both intra-EU and extra-EU connectivity in Europe, identify any shortcoming and facilitate identification of necessary measures to be taken at national and European level.

What is in the strategy for European airports?

The Commission will request authorisations to negotiate EU-level Comprehensive air transport agreements with third countries and regions. This would not be enough if capacity shortages at some of our largest airports remain unsolved. We need to finalise the reform of the Slot Regulation towards an efficient and effective use of scarce airport facilities, which allow up to 24 million additional passengers at EU airports every year and 300 million annual benefits.

What are the next steps for the aviation strategy?

In the course of December 2015, EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc will present the Aviation Strategy to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.

The Aviation Summit organised on 20 and 21 January 2016 under the Dutch presidency will be a good opportunity to gather the first reactions of the stakeholders.

On the basis of these discussions, the Commission will assess how implementation should proceed over the course of the current mandate. Some actions – such as the evaluations of existing legislation – can move ahead without delay. Others will take the form of Commission proposals and therefore be subject to normal consultation and decision-making procedures.

For more information

Communication: An Aviation Strategy for Europe

Press release (IP/15/6144)

Factsheet on International Aviation


Sources: Eurostat, OAG Schedules, studies on economic benefits.


Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

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