EU launches its aviation strategy for Europe

Eleanor Steed
By Eleanor Steed June 8, 2017 09:27

EU launches its aviation strategy for Europe

The European Commission has launched its Aviation Strategy for Europe, which seeks to adopt a series of measures to further support open and connected aviation markets in the European Union (EU). These include a legislative proposal for a regulation on safeguarding competition in air transport; interpretative guidelines on ownership and control of EU airline; interpretative guidelines on public services obligations; and practices facilitating continuity of air traffic management.

The Commission states that these initiatives will “safeguard competition and connectivity in aviation, facilitate investments in European airlines and enhance the efficiency and connectivity of European skies,” helping to reinforce the competitiveness of European aviation.

Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: “Our Aviation Strategy of December 2015 set an ambitious vision for the future of European aviation. Since then, we have worked hard to implement this vision jointly with all stakeholders. Today’s proposals aim at maintaining Europe’s leadership in international aviation, as well as at improving connectivity and airspace efficiency. A strong and sustainable European aviation sector is essential to support the EU’s economy and climate goals.”

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “We want to ensure that Europe remains a leader in international aviation, well connected to fast-growing markets, with efficient European skies. The success of European aviation is based on open and connected aviation markets. Our actions should deliver concrete benefits for passengers, workers and the aviation industry.”

The ‘Open and Connected Aviation’ package includes four initiatives:

1.    Maintain leadership in international aviation
European air connectivity in international air transport is equally dependent on foreign and EU airlines. When flying to or from the EU, all air carriers are granted the same rights. This may not always be the case for EU airlines when operating outside of the EU. In the absence of international rules, EU airlines may be subject to practices affecting competition. In the long run this could also affect the EU’s connectivity, impacting the Union’s competitiveness and limiting choices for travellers. The Commission is therefore proposing a new tool to ensure that EU airlines can compete on the basis of equal opportunities, and connectivity can be safeguarded. It will allow the EU to take appropriate action, should certain practices put the EU’s connectivity at risk.

In order to grow and thrive in a competitive environment, EU airlines also need access to investment, including foreign investment. Today, the Commission is adopting guidelines on the ownership and control of EU airlines. By bringing more clarity and certainty to investors and airlines alike, these guidelines will facilitate investments and help create new jobs.

2.    Tackle limits to growth in European skies
The main challenge for the growth of European aviation is to address the capacity, efficiency and connectivity constraints. Connectivity has a direct impact on economic activity and on people’s mobility: more flights mean more growth and more jobs. In certain European regions however, air travel remains a challenge, which is why Member States and local authorities can introduce Public Service Obligations to guarantee sufficient connections to the rest of their territory and of Europe. Today, the Commission is adopting guidelines on the existing rules regarding Public Service Obligations in aviation. They will make it easier for national authorities to address connectivity gaps, better serve the needs of local communities and contribute to their wealth.

Another priority is to enhance the efficiency of European skies by reducing fragmentation, which is responsible for EUR 3 billion of extra costs a year and 50 million tonnes of CO2, and by minimising air traffic disruption. Today the Commission is therefore inviting Member States and aviation stakeholders to consider a number of good practices to ensure air service continuity in the event of industrial action. These practices do not question the fundamental right to strike, but rather aim to improve service continuity and minimise disruption to the European network for airlines and passengers. Between 2005 and 2016, more than 243,000 flights were cancelled due to industrial action in Air Traffic Management, affecting around 27 million passengers. The good practices put forward by the Commission draw on a number of existing practices across the EU Member States.

Click on the links below to access the four papers as well as a Communication from the Commission that introduces the initiatives and puts them in their wider context.

1.    A legislative proposal for a Regulation on safeguarding competition in air transport;
2.    Interpretative guidelines on ownership and control of EU airlines.
3.    Interpretative guidelines on public services obligations;
4.    Practices facilitating continuity of air traffic management.

Eleanor Steed
By Eleanor Steed June 8, 2017 09:27