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Single European Sky II

The second regulatory package on the Single European Sky (SES II) was approved in 2009 and it changed the SES focus from capacity to performance in general. Its ultimate objective is to increase the economic, financial and environmental performance of the provisions of the Air Navigation Services in Europe. In particular, the amendments to the SES I regulatory package introduced a comprehensive EU-wide Performance Scheme; a refocus of the Functional Airspace Blocks to be not just about airspace but service provision in general, and a Network Manager to co-ordinate certain actions at network level. Furthermore, it extended the competences of European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to air traffic management and thus shifted rulemaking support for technical implementing rules, as well as oversight of Member States, from Eurocontrol to EASA1.

  • The Performance Scheme (Commission Regulation (EU) N° 691/2010) and the adoption by the European Commission of the EU-wide performance targets in areas of cost-efficiency, capacity and environment, requires that the National Supervisory Authorities elaborate national (or FAB-level) performance plans which contribute to the EU-wide performance targets.
  • The Functional Airspace Blocks are bottom-up initiatives led by the States, with a deadline for establishment by the end of 2012; they aim at an enhanced cooperation between the air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and the national supervisory authorities (NSAs) to obtain operational efficiency gains through such strategies as common procurement, training and optimisation of air traffic controllers (ATCs) resources.
  • The Network Manager is a centralised function at EU level to carry out the management of the ATM network functions (airspace design, flow management) and management of scarce resources (transponder code allocations, radio frequencies) as defined in Commission Regulation (EU) N° 677/2011. This function has been entrusted to Eurocontrol up to 2019.

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1 Regulation (EC) N° 1808/2009 of 21-10-2009, OJ L309, p. 51

Single European Sky 2+

The 2009 SES II-package has shown great promise, especially as regards the application of a more hands-off performance oriented model of economic regulation. With the implementation of that approach, important lessons have been learned that needed to be included in the regulations to refine the approach. Additionally, the SES II initiative left some overlaps in legislation, so that same provisions were found in several pieces of legislation. To perform these updates, the European Commission proposed an interim update of the SES rules, called Single European Sky 2+ . The SES2+ proposal was made in June 2013 and is currently in the process for approval by the European Parliament and Council.

The update focuses on seven main areas

  1. Independence and resources of National Supervisory Authorities (NSAs)
    High level of expertise and independence of oversight is central to the safe and efficient management of the ATM system. Audits have shown deficiencies in the oversight of Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs). SES2+ seeks to improve the system by providing the NSAs with more support through EU-level co-operation and by pooling resources. It also requires more separation of NSAs from the ANSPs they supervise in order to ensure truly independent oversight, such as is found for example in the oversight of airlines.
  2. Support services
    Traditionally, all ATM services have been bundled into one monopoly provider and designated without use of public procurement rules. SES2+ proposed the application of normal procurement rules to ensure a transparent selection of the provider offering the best cost/benefit ratio.
  3. Customer focus
    The ANSPs exist to serve the airspace users and need to be focused on the customer needs. SES2+ brings better consultation of the airspace users to ensure their needs are heard.
  4. Performance scheme and the Performance Review Body (PRB)
    The performance scheme requires some updates to avoid dilution of targets. The Performance Review Body (PRB) will also be given more independence.
  5. Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs)
    FABs have so far been relatively inflexible constructions, focused too much on organisational structures instead of operational benefits. SES2+ will make them more flexible, industry led, and more focused on performance. As long as the performance targets are met, the Commission will not try to micromanage the FABs, but rather lets the industry and States devise their own solutions.
  6. Network Manager (NM)
    The network manager mainly provides services to other service providers. In SES2+, its role is clarified, made industry-led, and the door to new centralised services -especially ones coming from SESAR- has now been opened.
  7. EASA, Eurocontrol and the institutional landscape
    Finally, a decade of overlapping responsibilities between EU level organisations is brought to an end by dividing work between the three European-level organisations (EASA, Commission and Eurocontrol) so that Eurocontrol will focus on the operational issues (network manager), EASA on technical rule drafting and oversight authority tasks, and the Commission on economic regulation (performance, charging, institutional issues, etc...).

So far the European Parliament and Council have agreed on their initial positions and in the next step of work, they should agree on a compromise position to enter into force as soon as possible.