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Brussels, 25 November 2011

Single European Sky progress reports

Section 1: Report on implementation of the Single European Sky legislation — "Time to deliver"

The European Commission has today warned that Member States and stakeholders will need to do more to ensure the Single European Sky (SES) becomes a reality. The report on the implementation of the Single European Sky concludes that more is still required to achieve full and timely implementation of the first package of legislation adopted in 2004. The main concerns relate to insufficient steps towards cross-border air navigation service provision, the lack of interoperability of air navigation systems and the lack of resources for national supervisory authorities as well as their low level of activity in monitoring the air navigation service providers.


Today's report provides a detailed "snap shot" of the implementation of the Single European Sky, which involves reforming the European Union's air traffic management (ATM) system.

The Commission identified in particular three areas of concern:

  • The lack of resources for National Supervisory Authorities leading to a low leve of monitoring activities of air navigation service providers should be addressed swiftly.

  • There remains a considerable lack of interoperability of air navigation systems leading to higher costs, barriers to the mobility of air traffic controllers and missed opportunities due to fragmented equipment markets.

  • The establishment of Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs), a concept of consolidation of service provision regardless of national borders. FABs still meet difficulties to be fully set up and functioning by December 2012. These blocks are essential for generating real benefits to airspace users and passengers by delivering cost savings and capacity enhancements.

Next steps

Member States are urged to confirm their commitments and to take action to make the Single European Sky implementation process a success. Failing to take measures at national level to achieve the Single European Sky would oblige the Commission to reopen the legislative packages in view of more radical solutions.


The Single European Sky was launched with the adoption of a first package of legislation in 2004 (SES I) and followed up with a second package (SES II) in 2009. Although the Member States and stakeholders have already done a significant amount of work in the wake of the first package, there still remain many other measures that will need to be implemented.

As regards the second package, its successful delivery now relies on the timely implementation of its different components. Priority should be given to actions that will make the biggest contribution to performance, in particular:

  • the performance scheme (starting early in 2012)

  • the FABs (to be operational by end 2012)

  • the ATM network functions operated by the Network Manager (already in place)

  • the deployment of the SESAR programme (to start in 2014).

Map 1 – Functional airspace block progress

European Commission "traffic light assessment" of progress on functional airspace blocks (FABs).

Target: All 9 FABs to be fully operational by end-2012.

Result: All FABs in orange or red zones, except one (Denmark/Sweden)

Press release: IP/11/1452

Text of the recent recommendation of the Commission:

Text of the implementation report:

Section 2: Report on the revision of targets contained in performance plans, with "traffic light" assessment of Member State performance plans.

The European Commission is calling on Member States to step up their efforts for the Single European Sky to avoid missing out on projected savings of nearly €1.2 billion by 2014. These savings are expected to benefit both airlines and travellers. Today the Commission issued recommendations to Member States to revise and further improve their performance plans so that EU-wide targets for the Single European Sky can still be achieved for the period 2012 to 2014. The Performance Review Body, which assessed national or functional airspace block (FAB) performance plans and targets, concluded that several national plans still fall short.


According to the assessment, the national performance plans would miss the EU-wide target for cost efficiency by 2.4% in 2014. To meet the target, additional measures are needed to achieve a €250 million saving over the entire three year reference period (2012–14).

Existing plans by Member States would also fail to meet the EU-wide target of 0.5 minute delay per flight in 2014. If this target was achieved, some €920 million would be saved over 2012–14 due to fewer and shorter delays.

Next steps

It is now up to Member States to revise their performance targets in line with the Commission's recommendations. In case of failure, the Commission may decide at a later stage that Member States have to take corrective measures.

Background information

The aim of the Single European Sky project is to put an end to the current fragmentation of Europe's sky in order to increase capacity and achieve cost-efficiency gains. In addition it will help to increase safety and reduce aviation's impact on the environment by making flights shorter and enabling airlines to cut back on fuel.

To this end, functional airspace blocks will be created in Europe. Member States are required (1) to adopt performance plans to show how they will meet the EU-wide performance targets adopted by the Commission.

The independent Performance Review Body was set up by the Commission in July 2010 to assess these performance plans. Its assessment of national or Functional Aisrpace Block performance plans with performance targets for the period 2012–14 was delivered to the Commission on 20 September 2011.

The Commission is entitled (2) to issue recommendations to Member States to adopt revised performance targets within four months after submission of the performance plans.

Frequently asked questions on Single European Sky performance targets

  • What is the importance of the performance scheme for the Single European Sky? How do airlines, passengers and European citizens benefit from the achievement of the EU-wide performance targets?

The performance scheme is a cornerstone of the Single European Sky. It aims at setting and implementing binding targets for Member States to deliver better air navigation services at lower cost. The incentives given through the performance scheme will lead to cheaper flights. Furthermore, the scheme ensures that capacity is increased. As a result, flights will be significantly less delayed, saving unnecessary costs for airlines and passengers. In addition, the environmental impact of air traffic will be reduced due to more efficient and shorter flight paths. Air travellers should benefit from a punctual, greener and more cost-efficient mode of transport with a maintained or even enhanced level of safety.

It has been estimated that during the three-year period 2012–14, airspace users will pay around EUR 19 billion on air navigation charges. Depending on the type of airline, air navigation charges represent between 6% and 10% of the airline’s operating costs. These are significant costs that are ultimately borne by passengers.

  • Why is the Commission issuing recommendations to Member States to change their performance plans?

The EU agreed in 2011, for the first time, EU-wide performance targets regarding cost-efficiency and capacity of air navigation services. Member States, either at national or functional airspace block level, had to present in summer 2011 performance plans that together deliver the agreed targets. The independent Performance Review Body assessed the national or functional airspace block performance plans. Their assessment report clearly shows that the aggregation of the national and functional airspace block performance targets will not allow reaching the agreed EU-wide targets in the period 2012–14. It is thus for the Member States to revise and further improve their targets.

The Commission has identified in its recommendation to Member States concrete areas for improving the performance plans in view of reaching the EU-wide targets. Member States now have two months to present revised performance plans. Depending on the assessment of the revised plans, the Commission may either approve them or ask for further modifications.

If Member States fail to deliver revised plans, the Commission may decide at a later stage that Member States have to take corrective measures. If necessary, the Commission may adopt a binding decision requesting the Member State(s) concerned to implement specific corrective measures.

  • Which Member States have to revise their national / functional airspace block performance targets?

Only the performance plans of Lithuania, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Denmark are in line with and contribute adequately to the EU-wide targets. Several Member States fulfil none or only one of the two targets: either the capacity or the cost-efficiency target. The table below shows for each Member State whether a target needs to be revised.

- Which performance targets are measured? Is it the first time that performance plans have been established?

The performance scheme was introduced with the Single European Sky legislative package in 2009 (i.e. SES II). For the so-called "first reference period 2012–14" EU-wide performance targets were agreed in the key performance areas of environment, safety, capacity and cost-efficiency. Even though environment and safety targets are not mandatory for performance plans during the first reference period, all plans contain substantial elements of environmental and safety performance.

It is the first time that Member States are required to set up performance plans. The revision of these plans following the Commission recommendation will allow for further improvements to the benefit of airlines and passengers in line with the agreed EU-wide targets.

TABLE 1 – Peformance Scheme Progress

European Commission "traffic light assessment" of Member State performance plans for ATM capacity (delays) and cost-efficiency

Target: Performance scheme meeting EU-wide targets to start early 2012.

Result: Only 5 Member States have submitted performance plans which would enable the EU-wide targets to be met. All others are in the orange or red zones.

More information:

1 :

Commission Regulation (EU) No 691/2010 laying down a performance scheme for air navigation services and network functions and amending Commission Regulation No 2096/2005

2 :

On the basis of Regulation (EU) No 691/2010

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