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Brussels, 8 April 2014
Statement to the media – Vice-President Siim Kallas
I want to talk this morning about drones.
I'm not sure what sort of image comes to your mind when I say that word, but here's one example.
In fact, civil drones can inspect the underside of an oil rig - 100s of kilometres off shore. A very dangerous job for a human being.
Civil drones can also:
Check for damage on road and rail bridges, monitor natural disasters such as flooding and spray crops with pinpoint accuracy.
They come in all shapes and sizes.
In the future, they may even deliver books from your favourite online retailer.
But many people, including myself, have concerns about the safety, security and privacy issues relating to these devices.
That's why we are proposing to draw up a range of tough measures to regulate this market, while at the same time allowing European industry to take advantage of the opportunities it presents.
If ever there was a right time to do this, and to do this at a European level, it is now.
Because drones, almost by definition, are going to cross borders and the industry is still in its infancy.
We need a single set of regulations that everyone can work with.
So what are we proposing?
And let me be clear on one point. We are talking here about machines which will be under human control, not completely automatic.
Somebody, somewhere will always have his or her hand on the joystick.
The civil drones industry has strong potential for growth. On some estimates in the next 10 years it could be worth 10% of the aviation market. That's 15 billion Euros per year.
At the moment the US is the world leader in operating military drones.
On this side of the Atlantic, pioneering work on civil drones is already being done in France, the UK and Sweden.
But safety, security and privacy come first. So this technology can only advance in a well regulated EU marketplace.
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