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Vice-President of the European Commission
Single European Sky 2+
Press Conference / Strasbourg
11 June 2013
Good afternoon everybody.
Those of you who have been following the story of the Single European Sky may agree with me that it is like one of those mirages in the desert.
Each time you get close, it seems to move further away.
Well, we think the time has come to take decisive action on behalf of Europe's airlines and their customers.
Europe's skies and airports risk saturation.
Flights are forecast to increase by 50% over the next 10-20 years.
If we leave things as they are, we will be confronted with heavy congestion and chaos in our airspace. On the ground, airports will be so crowded that there will be 2 million flights unable to take off or land.
Increased congestion brings with it increased safety risk- as well as delays and real economic costs.
We need a system which is not permanently under strain as traffic continues to grow.
Let me be very clear about one thing. The proposals we are making today in no way compromise on safety. Quite the opposite. The improvements in the oversight of air traffic control organisations are not just an administrative detail, they will make a real contribution to safety in the air.
But that is not all we are doing. We are putting performance targets where they belong – at the heart of the reform process. And we are setting the bar high.
Support services - such as weather forecasts and routing information - are vital for pilots and air traffic controllers alike. But they are also the biggest cost driver in air traffic management. We can make significant savings by opening them up to competition under open and transparent procurement rules.
Finally we have the 9 FAB blocks – the Functional Airspace Blocks. We are providing much more flexibility for players in the industry to work together for their benefit and the benefit of airspace users.
I should underline here that our disagreement is not with the skilled air traffic controllers who work hard to ensure we fly safely every day.
Our disagreement is with the vested interests in the monopoly suppliers of services who surround them.
As Transport Commissioner my job is ensure that our citizens actually have the freedom they deserve to move around the Single Market.
I think that is a freedom worth fighting for.