Today, EU transport ministers adopted a comprehensive set of Council conclusions which will lay down the framework for an ambitious EU external aviation policy for the coming years.
Based on the European Commission's recent Communication "The EU's external aviation policy – addressing future challenges", the Council has called for stronger coordination, unity and solidarity at EU level and for a more robust EU external aviation policy in order to strengthen the competitiveness of the European aviation industry while supporting the interests of European consumers.
Global aviation is changing dramatically and Europe has been harder hit by the recession than many other regions. The actions proposed by the Commission and endorsed by the Council will help boost the international competitiveness of the EU's aviation industry by opening negotiations with key partners to access new business opportunities in fast growing markets, developing new tools to fight unfair competition and creating the right regulatory conditions to stimulate investment.
Key measures to strengthen road safety and save lives have been put at risk by an agreement by transport ministers meeting today in Brussels. Vehicle checks are fundamental to road safety. More than 5 people die on Europe's roads every day in accidents linked to technical failure. EU transport ministers today agreed on a text which would water down key elements of Commission proposals for new rules to toughen up the current testing regime and widen its scope.
The agreement by ministers today would substantially weaken the proposed new rules, by (a) removing motorcycles and other two-wheelers, the most vulnerable group of road users from the scope of mandatory regular testing; (b) removing proposals for increased frequency of technical checks for older vehicles – the highest risk vehicles on the road; (c) weakening proposed measures to reduce mileage manipulation.
Ministers have backed measures with regard to two things: strengthened cross-border mutual recognition, and higher quality and harmonisation of testing, with minimum requirements on training, on equipment, on assessing deficiencies, on technical vehicle information and on supervision of testing.
Technical defects contribute heavily to accidents. They are responsible for 6% of all car accidents, translating into 2,000 fatalities and many more injuries yearly. 8% of all motorcycle accidents are linked to technical defects. Moreover, many technical defects with serious implications for safety (such as ABS and electronic stability control) are not even checked under current rules. Existing EU rules setting minimum standards for vehicle checks date back to 1977, with only minor updates. Cars, driver behaviour and technology have developed a lot since then.
The EU and the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL) signed today in the margin of the Transport Council a high-level agreement. The agreement will provide a general framework for cooperation and will allow the Commission to make use of the know-how and the expertise of Eurocontrol to speed up the implementation of the Single European Sky (SES). The main goal is achieving an optimal and integrated Air Traffic Management (ATM) network, offering a high degree of safety, cost-efficiency, capacity and environmental protection, for the benefit of passengers and citizens.
The European Commission proposed today new rules for the better protection of air passengers, aiming to achieve a decreased number of aircraft accidents and fatalities through a better use of data on occurrences. An occurrence is any type of event significant in the context of aviation safety which might or might not have resulted in an actual accident but which merits being collected and analysed. In addition, the new rules would promote a more efficient exchange of information between Member States. This legislative proposal is the core element of the future European Aviation Safety System which aims to shift Europe towards a proactive and evidence based safety system, i.e. a system that attempts to foresee and prevent accidents based on the collection and analysis of data, rather than simply reacting after accidents.
By the end of the year new EU rules to better care for passengers when travelling by sea and inland waterway will be protected by a set of minimum rights anywhere within the European Union. As from 31 December, passengers travelling by sea will have the right to claim compensation for loss or damage in the event of accidents.
European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas called today on the 44 Director-Generals representatives of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) for full engagement on the implementation of the Single European Sky, and for a positive cooperation between ECAC and the EU.
The European Parliament voted today on proposed measures to help increase the capacity of Europe's airports, reduce delays and improve the quality of services offered to passengers. In its vote on the "airports package" the Parliament gave strong support for the Commission's proposals to improve slot allocation as well as to improve the transparency of noise decisions. The Parliament referred the proposals on ground handling back to the Parliamentary Committee for further consideration.
Airport package – Speech to European Parliament Plenary debate
The European Parliament will next week debate and vote on a comprehensive package of proposed measures to help increase the capacity of Europe's airports, reduce delays and improve the quality of services offered to passengers. The proposed measures address the quality of services passengers and airlines receive on the ground before they take off and after they land (for example, baggage handling, check-in, refuelling), the transparency of decisions on airport noise, as well as the efficiency of the complex network of take-off and landing slots that make up every journey. The debate is scheduled for Tuesday 11th December afternoon, vote Wednesday 12th December.
Speech by Vice-President Siim Kallas at the Conference on fair and efficient road pricing, Brussels
Bridging transport’s financing gap: fair charging for the road ahead
The European Commission has adopted today the 20th update of the European list of air carriers which are subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union, better known as "the EU air safety list". Because of important safety concerns, air carriers certified in Eritrea have been added to the list. On the other hand, following improvement in the safety situation in Mauritania, it was possible to remove from the list all air carriers certified in Mauritania. The same was true for the Jordan carrier Jordan Aviation, which was also removed from the list. Progress was also noted in Libya but the Libyan authorities agreed that Libyan carriers would not be permitted to operate to Europe until they are fully recertified to the satisfaction of the Commission.
Single European Sky: Member States fail to reach key deadline to achieve more efficient European airspace
Many Member States are seriously lagging behind and not yet fully compliant with requirements to make nine Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) fully operational, for the deadline of 4 December 2012. A critical deadline has been missed for FABs, the regional airspace blocks which are a key element for the ambitious plans to create a single European airspace – tripling European airspace capacity and halving air traffic control costs. The Commission warned today that it will launch infringement procedures against Member States for all the Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) which are not yet fully compliant with all legal requirements. It will also present a new package of legislative measures in Spring 2013 to accelerate reforms and ensure the full delivery of a Single European Sky.