Single European Sky
Commission accepts certain member states’ lack of ambition
By Isabelle Smets | Thursday 19 July 2012
The European Commission has finally approved the national performance plans put forward by member states to improve air traffic management within the framework of the Single European Sky. It announced, on 19 July, that it had given the green light to the plans, which address the punctuality and costs of air services. Nonetheless, it pointed out that all member states have not fulfilled the objectives defined at EU level.
The peformance scheme of the Single European Sky was established in 2010, and covers the period 2012-2014. Its goals are: a maximum average delay of 0.5 minute per flight by 2014, a 0.75% reduction of the average horizontal flight extension - compared to the year 2009 baseline - by 2014, and a reduction of the average unit rate (the price charged to airlines) from €59.97 to €53.92 by 2014.
In order to achieve this, each member state was required to submit a plan containing national performance goals to the Commission by the summer of 2011. However, by the end of 2011 the Commission had rejected most of these plans because they did not meet the EU-level goals. Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas therefore asked member states to show a little more ambition in their plans, and the revised versions of these plans have finally been accepted.
According to the Commission, the performance plans should allow for savings of a billion euro thanks to the reduction of delays caused by air traffic control, and to the reduction of the fees for air navigation from an average of €800 per flight to €690, between now and 2014.
Nonetheless, while collectively speaking the revised performance plans move closer to the European objectives, several countries have hardly - if at all - revised their initial goals. The Commission has also recognised that the contribution of member states to Community goals “varies substantially”. Concerning the cost-efficiency objective, it said that Spain and Portugal have made “a major effort,” but criticised the United Kingdom, Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Romania for not making enough effort, emphasising that it expects these countries to make a larger contribution to collective efforts for the period 2015-2019.
To recall, last May, European air companies expressed their dissatisfaction with member states’ loose interpretation of the European performance scheme (see
Europolitics4431). Eurocontrol, the organisation in charge of supervising this process, therefore suggested that the Commission should move forward and accept the revised national plans - in spite of their weaknesses.