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Single Sky: Commission acts to unblock congestion in Europe's airspace

Radar

The European Commission acted on 11 June to speed up the reform of Europe's air traffic control system. The Commission is looking to head off a capacity crunch as the number of flights is forecast to increase by 50% over the next 10-20 years. Inefficiencies in Europe's fragmented airspace bring extra costs of close to 5 billion Euros each year to airlines and their customers. They add 42 kilometres to the distance of an average flight forcing aircraft to burn more fuel, generate more emissions, pay more in costly user charges and suffer greater delays. The United States controls the same amount of airspace, with more traffic, at almost half the cost.

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eCall: automated emergency call for road accidents mandatory in cars from 2015

eCall

To help mitigate the consequences of serious road accidents across the EU, the European Commission adopted on 13 June two proposals to ensure that, by October 2015, cars will automatically call emergency services in case of a serious crash. The "eCall" system automatically dials 112 - Europe's single emergency number - in the event of a serious accident. It communicates the vehicle's location to emergency services, even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a phone call. It is estimated that it could save up to 2500 lives a year.

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Council reaches agreement on roadworthiness

technical inspection on the road

The European Commission welcomes the "general approach" reached at the Transport Council of 10 June on the remaining two elements of the Roadworthiness Package: the Directives on technical roadside inspections and on vehicle registration documents. Technical roadside inspections throughout the EU will contribute to reach the road safety goal of halving the number of road fatalities by 2020 and reducing unfair competition in road transport. The Commission regrets however that light vans and their trailers will not be included in Member States' roadside inspections.

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Council reaches agreement on rail interoperability

Railway tracks by night

The European Commission welcomed on 10 June the progress achieved in the Transport Council to enhance the quality and efficiency of Europe-wide rail services by removing remaining technical obstacles. Following the proposal of the Commission for the recast of the interoperability directive, the Transport Council adopted a "general approach" on new rules which will introduce a single European authorisation for placing railway vehicles on the EU market, and will reinforce the central role of the European Railway Agency.

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Aviation: EU and Israel sign agreement

El Al plane

In the margins of the EU Transport Council in Luxembourg, the European Union and Israel signed on 10 June a comprehensive air transport agreement which will gradually open up and integrate their respective markets, develop an aviation area with common rules, offer economic benefits for consumers and new opportunities for the industry.

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EU ratifies the Alpine Convention’s Transport Protocol

Freight train in the Alps

With the decision adopted on 10 June by the Council, the European Union ratified the Transport Protocol of the Alpine Convention, which consequently enters into force in the EU and becomes European law. This decision is part of the EU 'greening transport' approach and confirms that the Alpine region is an important issue in the European transports policy.

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Background

Air traffic managers

Single European Sky 2+

A speech from Vice-President Siim Kallas, 11 June 2013

Those who have been following the story of the Single European Sky may agree with me that it is like one of those mirages in the desert.Each time you get close, it seems to move further away.

Well, we think the time has come to take decisive action on behalf of Europe's airlines and their customers.

Europe's skies and airports risk saturation. Flights are forecast to increase by 50% over the next 10-20 years.If we leave things as they are, we will be confronted with heavy congestion and chaos in our airspace. On the ground, airports will be so crowded that there will be 2 million flights unable to take off or land.

Increased congestion brings with it increased safety risk- as well as delays and real economic costs. We need a system which is not permanently under strain as traffic continues to grow.

Let me be very clear about one thing. The proposals we are making today in no way compromise on safety. Quite the opposite. The improvements in the oversight of air traffic control organisations are not just an administrative detail, they will make a real contribution to safety in the air.

But that is not all we are doing. We are putting performance targets where they belong – at the heart of the reform process. And we are setting the bar high.

Support services - such as weather forecasts and routing information - are vital for pilots and air traffic controllers alike. But they are also the biggest cost driver in air traffic management. We can make significant savings by opening them up to competition under open and transparent procurement rules.

Finally we have the 9 FAB blocks – the Functional Airspace Blocks. We are providing much more flexibility for players in the industry to work together for their benefit and the benefit of airspace users.

I should underline here that our disagreement is not with the skilled air traffic controllers who work hard to ensure we fly safely every day.

Our disagreement is with the vested interests in the monopoly suppliers of services who surround them.

As Transport Commissioner my job is ensure that our citizens actually have the freedom they deserve to move around the Single Market.I think that is a freedom worth fighting for.

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