Issue n° 146 - 20 September 2013

More on transport

In the spotlight

NAIADES II: Making better use of Europe's waterways
(Press release)

The European Commission has adopted on 10 September 2013 the NAIADES II package "Towards quality inland waterway transport".

Read the full article:

Brussels, 10 September 2013

The European Commission today announced new measures to get more freight onto Europe's rivers and canals. Barges are amongst the most climate-friendly and energy efficient forms of transport but currently they only carry about 6% of European cargo each year. The new proposals intend to realise the unused potential of Europe's 37,000 km of inland waterways. They will enable freight to move more easily and lead to further greening of the sector, as well as encouraging innovation and improving job opportunities.

European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas responsible for Transport said,

"We already send 500 million tonnes of freight along our rivers and canals each year. That's the equivalent of 25 million trucks. But it's not enough. We need to help the waterway transport industry develop over the longer term into a high quality sector. We need to remove the bottlenecks holding it back, and to invest in the skills of its workforce."

The Commission is proposing actions in the following areas:

Removing bottlenecks

Significant bottlenecks in the form of inadequately dimensioned locks, bridges or fairways and missing links such as the connection between the Seine and the Scheldt river systems are hampering the sector’s full development potential. The Commission is proposing to improve transport of waterborne freight by upgrading locks, bridges and navigation channels. The new Connecting Europe Facility and TEN-T guidelines give priority to new funding opportunities for inland waterways – inland waterways are moreover an important component of six out of nine TEN-T core network corridors.

Greening and innovation

Compared to other land-based modes of transport, inland waterway transport is energy-efficient, safe, almost congestion-free and silent. The Commission will propose measures including new standards for engines to encourage investment in low emission technologies as well as support for research and innovation.

Better connections to other forms of transport

Priority will be given to improving links between inland waterways, road and rail – with particular attention paid to connections at sea and river ports. Based on its ongoing review of River Information Services, the Commission will make proposals to improve cargo handling facilities and reduce paperwork.

Investing in a skilled workforce

The waterways sector relies on a skilled workforce. The new proposals are expected to bring broader recognition of qualifications and careers, to improve labour access, and mobility.


About 37 000 kilometres of inland waterways flow through 20 of the EU Member States, transporting around 500 million tons of cargo every year, in particular in the densely populated and congested areas. The intertwined Rhine, Scheldt and Meuse river systems are connected to the Seine and Danube rivers. However some major bottlenecks prevent the European river systems from taking full part in the European transport area.

After the general slowdown of the EU economy since 2008, overcapacity in certain market segments, the continued fragmentation of market players and the aging fleet have led to a worsening of the economic and sustainability prospects for inland navigation. NAIADES II responds with the work towards a stable long term framework for investments and innovation in quality inland navigation and with measures with short to medium term effects, such as a review of costly technical requirements. Under NAIADES II, financing from EU, national and from the sector needs to be mobilised to support the necessary investments. Access to finance is particularly important in this respect.

For more information:


Follow Vice-President Kallas on Twitter

Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

NAIADES II . Towards quality inland waterway transport. In Greek mythology, the Naiades were water nymphs.

NAIADES II: Towards quality waterway transport


Brussels, 10 September 2013

Key facts and figures

  • The top 5 biggest sea ports in the EU are all connected to inland waterways.

  • Every year, 140 billion tonne kilometres are transported over EU inland waterways.

  • There are over 230 inland ports in the TEN-T network, of which about 75 are part of the Core network. About 40 of these ports combine the status of inland and seaport.

  • The CO 2 emissions and fuel consumption of a large inland waterway ship are only 1/3 of those of road transport.

  • Rotterdam, the largest sea port in the EU transferred in 2010 1/3 of all goods via inland waterways.

  • Europe's navigable inland waterways add up to 37 000 kilometres.

What is the issue?

Transport by rivers and canals is a silent and very energy-efficient way of transporting goods. It plays a key role in bringing a good from Europe's busy seaports to its final destination. However, the potential of this mode of transport is not fully exploited.

Europe's rivers still have plenty of capacity to transport more goods and alleviate the congested road and rail axes in some of the most densely populated areas. It can also do more to reduce the emission of harmful air pollutants.

Furthermore, significant parts of the inland navigation sector are facing economic difficulties. Demand is still low, whereas capacity has continued to increase, translating into imbalances between offer and demand, price pressure, decreasing capacity utilisation, reduced employment and profitability.

What are the current policies?

The NAIADES I Action programme from 2006 listed over 30 actions to promote inland navigation. Many of these actions have now been finalised and the programme now needs to be updated. We need to refocus policy on the key issues of improving the economic and environmental performance of the sector.

What are we proposing?

The Commission proposes a new action programme with measures that will improve the framework conditions for the inland waterway sector and will boost the economic and environmental performance of this transport mode.

The NAIADES II programme will facilitate long-term structural changes in the inland waterway transport sector. It also includes short terms actions currently being undertaken by the Commission to address the difficult economic situation of the sector.

The measures of NAIADES II are the following:

Improving infrastructure quality and fostering integration of inland waterway transport into the logistics chain

An efficient infrastructure is the basic condition for inland waterway transport to operate successfully. Inland navigation can only play its full role if inland waterways are well maintained, better connected to other modes of transport, if missing links are filled and if bottlenecks are overcome.

Through the Connecting Europe Facility, the Commission will provide support to improve existing and build new inland waterway infrastructure and will help to upgrade its interconnection with other transport modes. The TEN‑T Corridor implementation will ensure that corridors are developed taking into account all modes of transport in a coordinated way.

The Commission will review the deployment of River Information Services 1 taking into account the need to improve data integration across transport modes.

Supporting the smooth functioning of the market and restructuring of the sector and address the need for qualifications, skills and quality jobs

The inland waterway sector is operating under difficult economic circumstances. The fragmentation in the sector is high with 80% of the fleet is operated by owner-operators. This makes it difficult to match supply with demand and hampers the sector’s ability to reinvest and innovate. Employment in the sector is estimated to have decreased with 10%. The age structure for workers will lead to an increased outflow of workers in the coming decade. In certain market segments, 50 % of the workers are over 50 years old.

The Commission has engaged in a discussion with the sector and the Member States concerned about suitable measures to overcome the difficult situation and support the restructuring of the sector. The Commission also looks at what can be done from the regulatory side to improve the situation. It will re-examine technical requirements for vessels and encourage the early uptake of the use of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) as an alternative fuel.

The Commission will propose measuresto reduce barriers to labour access and mobility, valorise qualifications and careers in the sector, and improve the level playing field.

Greening the sector by reducing emissions and boosting innovation

Compared to other land-based modes of transport, inland waterways are energy-efficient, safe, almost congestion-free and silent. However, progress on reducing air pollutants has been out of tune with this otherwise favourable trend. Uptake of alternative fuels such as LNG may help the sector to catch up with other transport modes.

The Commission will review the emission limits for new engines and explore further emission limits for existing ones. It will also amend the rules to allow the use of LNG as a fuel in inland navigation.

The inland waterway transport regularly comes up with new services and develops new markets. However, the overall innovation rate is low and needs a strong boost. The Commission calls upon the sector to develop a roadmap for research, development and innovation.

The Commission will provide support for greening and innovation from the Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility programmes and has tabled a proposal as part of the NAIADES II package to allow the sector’s reserve fund to support investment in reducing emissions. Support action by the Commission can be complemented by dedicated programmes at the Member State level.

A new approach to governance

NAIADES II will address the overlap of legal frameworks and competencies in the inland waterway sector. It entails institutional and legislative measures and aims at a more targeted cooperation with other international bodies in order to address duplication of rules.

The first steps have been set through an administrative arrangement between the Commission services and the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine and a new proposal for a Directive adopted as part of the NAIADES II package, replacing the Directive 2006/87/EC on technical requirements for inland waterway vessels and allowing to enact uniform standards.

What are the benefits?

The whole European economy will benefit as inland waters will be better exploited.

The inland waterway operators will benefit from a clearer legal framework, from improved operating conditions, from framework conditions that stimulate innovation and from the increased possibility to use budgets contributed by the sector to a reserve fund. At the same time, the industries and users of inland navigation will benefit from quality inland navigation services.

European citizens will enjoy environmental and health-related benefits as inland navigation will become more attractive from an economic and environmental perspective.

More information:

infographics on EU ports:

River Information Services (RIS) and its related projects involve traffic management infrastructure on the inland waterway network. Specifically, this includes the establishment of an interoperable, intelligent traffic and transport system to optimise the existing capacity and safety and improve interoperability with other transport modes.

Rebuttal: No EU plans to bring forward proposals for mandatory speed limiters

Recent reports in the press have suggested that the EU intends to bring forward “formal proposals this autumn” to introduce automatic speed controls -known as “Intelligent Speed Adaptation” or ISA, into cars. This is quite simply not true and the Commission had made this very clear to the journalists concerned prior to publication.

Read the full article:

Recent reports in the press have suggested that the EU intends to bring forward “formal proposals this autumn” to introduce automatic speed controls -known as “Intelligent Speed Adaptation” or ISA, into cars. This is quite simply not true and the Commission had made this very clear to the journalists concerned prior to publication.

There is no EC legislative proposal currently in preparation concerning mandatory use of Intelligent Speed Adaptors.  No such proposal is foreseen.

The Commission has supported past research into ISA. There is a current stakeholder consultation and study focusing on speed limiting technology already fitted to Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and buses. One aspect of that is whether ISA could in the long-term be an alternative. A second consultation looks more broadly at in-vehicle safety systems in general.

For more detail see:

More news

European Mobility Week: Vice-President Kallas calls for innovation to make hydrogen cars cost-competitive


Zero-emission cars are no longer a distant vision. As part of European Mobility Week , Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas is today participating in a debate about hydrogen and fuel cell powered cars.

These cars offer the same benefits as battery electric cars: high energy efficiency, zero tail-pipe emissions and quiet operation. But their range is much longer, and refuelling quick, which makes them a perfect solution for both urban and long-distance trips. However, the sector is still maturing and needs substantial research and development effort to become cost-competitive.

This is why the Commission is proposing a budget of €700 million for centralised research, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme. Vice-President Kallas said: "If Europe does not want to be left behind in the race to materializing a low-carbon future, it must innovate. With Horizon 2020, we have a chance to turn brilliant ideas into viable products."

The "Drive 'n' Ride" debate is taking place today from 12:45 to 15:00 on the European Parliament's Esplanade in Brussels.

European Commission invests €600 million in new research to unblock congestion in Europe's airspace

Brussels, 10 July 2013

The European Commission has today announced €600 million of new funding to unblock congestion in Eu rope's airspace. 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. The goal is to develop the new technology needed to deliver Europe's Single Sky – the ambitious project to reform Europe's airspace, doubling capacity and halving air traffic management costs.

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said, "Europe's skies and airports risk saturation. 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. This vital research funding holds the keys to unlocking the technology needed to deliver a cleaner, more efficient, European airspace fit for the 21 st century."

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.

This research is critical to delivering t he Single European Sky, the flagship project to create a single European airspace – tripling capacity and halving air traffic costs. It will continue to be managed by the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking (JU) - whose mandate will be prolonged for a further 8 years, until 2024.

The research aims to make flying cleaner, cheaper and safer. The new funding will focus on

  1. developing means to allow airlines to fly their preferred (and more direct) routes, using new technologies for data exchange between air and ground;

  2. integrating new types of aircraft, such as drones, in the air traffic management system;

  3. optimising traffic management, in particular on the ground; for example to make the access to and exit from the runways more efficient and safer in all weather conditions.

The project involves more than 2500 experts covering the full range of air traffic management (ATM) expertise. Their work on coordinated ATM related research will continue, as well as development and validation activities, including large scale demonstrations.

The extension of the SESAR JU shows the Commission's strong commitment to the Single European Sky project (see IP 13/523) and recognises the importance of the results that the SESAR JU has already achieved to date.

The SESAR JU will continue to be co-financed by Eurocontrol and the aviation industry. The EU's share of the funding for the extension, amounting to a maximum of 600 million Euros, will come from the Horizon 2020 programme, as part of the EU's new Multi-Annual Financial Framework. This is part of an estimated total budget covering the new work programme of the extended SESAR JU of €1.6 billion. Indicatively, this budget will support ATM exploratory research (6%), applied research (47%), pre-industrial development (28%) and large scale demonstration projects (9%).


The SESAR JU is a unique public-private partnership that aims to develop a new generation of air traffic management (ATM) system capable of coping with growing air traffic, under the safest, most cost-efficient and environmentally friendly conditions. It is also the “guardian” of the European ATM Master Plan, the roadmap for all SESAR JU’s activities and their future deployment.

The SESAR JU was established in 2007 to coordinate all the ATM related research and development activities in the EU under the 2007-2013 financial perspectives, which limited the duration of the Joint Undertaking to 31 December 2016.

The 2 founding members of the SESAR JU, (the EU and Eurocontrol) and its other 15 members, which include public and private entities such as aircraft manufacturer Airbus, major national air navigation service providers and airports and equipment manufacturers, such as Thales, Indra, Alenia Aermacchi, Frequentis, Selex SI and Honeywell, have already confirmed their commitment to continue their work in SESAR.

The SESAR JU has a critical role to play in developing the technology to deliver t he Single European Sky, the flagship project to create a single European airspace:

  1. Cutting ATM-related expenses for airspace users in half

  2. Reducing by 10% the effects flights have on the environment

  3. Delivering a 3-fold increase in capacity which will also reduce delays both on the ground and in the air

  4. Improving safety by a factor of 10.

More information:


Follow Vice-President Kallas on Twitter



Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

Aviation safety: Member States support the revision of aircrew fatigue rules

The Member States voted today strongly in support of a draft proposal made by the Commission aimed at revising the current EU safety rules governing the fatigue of aircrew, commonly called "flight and duty limitations and rest requirements" (or "flying time limitations"- FTL). The revision aims at consolidating, clarifying, complementing - and making more stringent – the current rules, taking into consideration the available scientific, operational and international information.

Siim Kallas, Commission Vice-President responsible for transport, said: "The travelling public needs reassurance that the public authorities are doing everything possible to ensure safety in the skies, including the sensitive and complicated question of aircrew fatigue. We are determined to see stronger, safer rules applying across Europe, whether in relation to night time flying or on rest periods. So I am delighted at this strong support from Member States for this important proposal. This will bring about major improvements across Europe for the safety of our citizens and flight crew."

Member States today voted strongly in support of the Commission proposal to amend the EU rules on flight time limitation

The current FTL rules are contained in Subpart Q of Annex III to Council Regulation (EEC) No 3922/91, which applies since July 2007.

As for all aviation safety fields, Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 requires the Commission to adopt an implementing regulation to transfer the current FTL rules to the legislative and institutional framework of this Regulation, and to revise the existing rules in line with the latest scientific evidence and technical developments. The aim is to ensure a coherent safety regulatory system at EU level.

These objectives were well attained by the technical proposals made by EASA to the Commission in October 2012 1 . The EASA Opinion was the result of a careful and comprehensive consultation and assessment processes, involving all stakeholders concerned.

A thorough assessment of the EASA Opinion and consultation of all stakeholders was conducted before the Commission felt satisfied that it had a sufficient basis for proposing the new regulation. It was clear from the consultation that certain issues needed to be refined, and the Commission therefore proposed amendments to address issues identified by aircrew unions, by airlines, by the European Parliament, and by Member States. Improvements touched, among others, the important issues of possible derogations from the EU rules, the relationship with social legislation, airport duty, reserve, delayed reporting, in-flight rest for cabin crew, night flights and standby.

In discussion in the EASA Committee, Member States highlighted the high quality of the proposed rules, the fair balance found and the clear safety improvements achieved. They also stressed their agreement with the Commission that there should be a continuous and ongoing assessment of the FTL regime, based on real operational data, to ensure that the system is effective and ensuring a proper level of safety protection.

During the discussions which took place today, Member States discussed several options for regulating night flight duties and standby outside the airport. The majority found that the proposals presented by the Commission and by EASA to regulate these areas were sufficiently protective.

In the case of night duties, Member States welcome the Commission proposal to reduce the maximum night time duties from the current 11 hours 45 minutes to 11 hours, and supported the proposed requirement to manage actively duty rosters including night duties longer than 10 hours using fatigue management principles, which should ensure safe air operations in the most proportionate manner.

On standby, Member States were satisfied with the reassurances from EASA which offer further protection.

It was also made clear that the FTL safety rules are without prejudice to the applicable EU and national social legislation, including rules concerning working time, health and safety at work or the existing collective labour agreements (CLAs). In addition, the relation between safety and social rules is based on the principle that the most protective rule applies.

This positive vote now triggers a 3 month scrutiny of the Regulation by the European Parliament and the Council, which should start by the end of this month.

The Commission thanked the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Member States and stakeholders for the work done and for the support provided to allow the modernization of this important piece of EU legislation.

For more information:

Follow Vice-President Kallas on Twitter

Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

See EASA Opinion 04/20012, of 1.10.2012, and related material available at .

Passenger Rights: Meglena Kuneva launches new information campaign in Riga

Riga, 4 September 2013

Meglena Kuneva, former European Commissioner for consumer protection and now special adviser on passenger rights to Vice-President Siim Kallas, will be in Riga as ambassador for the promotion of passenger rights on 5 September 2013. During the visit she will meet the authorities in charge of enforcing maritime, bus, air and rail passenger rights and will participate in several meetings with transport and consumer associations. This visit to Latvia marks the beginning of a wider European tour in the context of the Commission's new awareness campaign on Passenger Rights.

Ms Kuneva said: "the EU is the only region in the world where passengers enjoy basic rights when travelling by air, train, ship and bus. However, only 34% of the travellers are aware of their rights. We need to make sure that consumers get to know these rules and how they can benefit from them”.

During the visit, Ms. Kuneva will participate in a stakeholder meeting with the following objectives:

  • To increase awareness of passenger rights;
  • To collect information on how EU rules on passenger rights for all transport modes are applied in Latvia;
  • To further involve stakeholders in the EU Passenger Rights Campaign and in the correct implementation of EU rules on passenger rights.

Ms Kuneva will take this opportunity to meet the Latvian national authorities in charge of the enforcement of passenger rights legislation to discuss practical issues such as assistance to disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility as well as cooperation on communicating passenger rights to the citizens.

Ms Kuneva will also participate in the 10th anniversary meeting of the Association of Pan-European Coach Terminals to explain the importance of bus and coach terminals in the implementation of the EU passenger rights Regulation. This meeting is jointly organised with the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the global industry federation with members in 73 countries worldwide which represents the interests of bus, coach, taxi and truck operators.

Yves Mannaerts, Vice President of the IRU, said: “The European bus and coach industry is ready and willing to shoulder its responsibilities under the new EU passengers’ rights legislation, applicable to buses and coaches since March this year. To do so, however, we also need appropriate infrastructure, and in particular terminals, to welcome our passengers in the safest and most convenient way. A free and unrestricted access to other modes’ terminals would also help bus and coach operators to offer higher quality services to their current and future customers.

In the coming months Ms Kuneva will participate in similar events throughout the EU. During her visits she will personally meet Heads of National Enforcement Bodies (NEBs), passenger rights mediators, organisations of passengers and disabled persons as well as transport operators and tourism companies to discuss the application of the different EU regulations on passenger rights in Member States and how to raise awareness among citizens.

Background information

Riga International Airport accounted for nearly 5 million passengers in 2012, being the largest airport in the Baltic States with direct flights to over 80 destinations in 30 countries. Latvia has also a considerable number of passenger ferry connections across the Baltic Sea. Riga International Bus Stations is the biggest transport hub in the Baltic region with nearly 7 million passengers per year.

For more info

The campaign material and more information are available at "Your Passenger Rights At Hand" website.

Rail Passenger rights: good implementation but efforts still needed for protection of rail travellers

Brussels, September 2013


The European Commission has released today a report assessing how Member States authorities and the railway industry are applying rules[1] for the protection of rail passengers. While the protection of rail passengers has improved since the Regulation is applicable, around 61% of all national long distance services and 83% of regional and suburban services are not yet applying the full range of rail passenger rights because Member States opted for transitional periods and exemptions. This practice could become an obstacle to the achievement of a complete rail passenger rights regime in the EU.

European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "Every year, almost 8 billion passengers use the train to go to work, for business trips or leisure. We need to make sure that all of them, notwithstanding the type and length of rail journey they undertake, are protected by European Passenger Rights legislation."

Regulation (EU) No 1371/2007, which entered into force on 3 December 2009, sets up minimum rights for rail travellers and imposes a number of obligations on rail companies concerning their responsibility towards their customers. The Regulation allows Member States to opt for transitional periods and exemptions from major provisions of the Regulation for the following rail services:

  • domestic rail;
  • urban, suburban and regional rail;
  • services or journeys where a significant part of the service, including at least one scheduled station stop, is operated outside the EU.

Overall, both national authorities and rail companies have made good efforts to ensure the protection of rail passengers in the EU, notably on international services. Where services are not exempted or when Member States cannot opt out, the rules have been well applied and enforced. However, the Member Statess extensive use of exemptions risks creating an empty shell for national services.

It is contrary to the policy objectives of a single European Railway Area. Patchy application of the Regulation also means a lack of level playing field between railway companies, depending on the type of services they provide.

Some Member States also need to improve their enforcement activities. And a few railway companies need to ensure that their liabilities in case of accident are sufficiently covered.

The Commission considers that the extensive use of exemptions by some Member States is an obstacle for the fulfilment of the Regulation's objectives.

[1] Regulation (EC) No 1371/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on rail passengers’ rights and obligations,  OJ L 315, 3.12.2007

2013 EU Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan

Commissioner's corner

Speech - The Single European Sky: time to make the vision a reality

‘We have the tools at hand to turn the Single Sky into a success, a reality at last. Achieving and completing the project is vital for the competitiveness, cost-effectiveness, growth and sustainability of Europe's entire air transport system. We can still do this’

Siim Kallas

Read the full speech:

Siim Kallas

Vice President of the European Commission

The Single European Sky: time to make the vision a reality

Informal meeting of EU transport ministers/Vilnius

16 September 2013

Ministers, ladies and gentlemen

It is a pleasure to be with you in Vilnius today.

I have talked several times about the lack of progress made towards achieving the Single European Sky. The most recent occasion was last year in Limassol, when I said the project was still not delivering, 10 years after it was launched. Throughout this time, European airlines and their passengers have had to put up with reduced services and missed deadlines on the route towards a Single European Sky. Progress has been elusive. It’s a bit like a mirage in the desert: each time you think you’re close, it seems to move further away and slips through your grasp. You will no doubt have heard or read what I said in Limassol, although it was not a ministerial conference. Now that we are all here together, let us use this time profitably for a political discussion about how to steer the coming debate.

I also said that we have the tools at hand to turn the Single Sky into a success, a reality at last. Achieving and completing the project is vital for the competitiveness, cost-effectiveness, growth and sustainability of Europe's entire air transport system. We can still do this. That’s why I proposed SES 2+ with some changes to speed up implementation, because this project is too important to be allowed to fail.

But the critical, negative reaction from some quarters has been surprising, to put it mildly – so surprising that I have to ask:

- do Member States still want to have a Single European Sky in the future?

- are they prepared to accept that a fragmented European sky is, in fact, not a problem and that we can remain in this situation for years to come?

- is the process of achieving greater efficiency and ending this market fragmentation too difficult politically?

I am told by some that SES 2+ demands "too much, too soon" from Member States and that there is no real urgency. I don’t agree – and I would sum up the situation a little differently. My view is that the achievement level of the Single Sky has been "too low and too slow". Just look at how quickly we are dealing with the interoperability issue and implementing the various regulations. The time has come to act, and it’s overdue.

I say this because, given the constant and rising demands on air travel and the aviation industry, time is running out fast. We need to deliver now . While Europe’s air transport sector handles things competently, our airspace is not ready to cope with the expected growth in traffic. If we leave things as they are, EU airspace will face heavy congestion – and chaos.

Surprisingly, this projection of growth has attracted criticism and scepticism. By 2035, flights are forecast to rise by 50% from 2012, which takes us up to 14.4 million flights. These figures come from Eurocontrol’s "most-likely" scenario for developments in air traffic growth. They have to be considered in a pan-European context, and not a national one.

Why? because they reflect the real European situation, not that of individual countries. And also because this is about moving from a patchwork to a network: the core principle of the Single European Sky which Member States agreed all those years ago. Since air traffic growth will be limited by available airport capacity, Eurocontrol forecasts that about 1.9 million flights – equivalent to 12% of demand – will not be accommodated by 2035. This means that airports will be so crowded that aircraft will simply be unable to take off or land. That is why we together proposed a new airports package and I strongly hope that we will finalise the legislative procedure before the end of this legislature. If we do nothing, Europe’s airlines and airports would not only have to reject a large portion of potential demand. They would also be vulnerable to delays and cancellations on an unprecedented scale, with hefty rises in congestion costs.

I have also received queries about the real need and urgency of this reform at a time of economic crisis. But most ANSPs are doing fairly well financially, despite the recent downturn in traffic. I think that view is unrealistic – so I struggle to accept the argument. Do we have to wait until the pain has become so great before we act? Surely one thing we learned in European aviation from the volcanic ash cloud crisis is that it pays to be prepared. Air traffic is going to rise in Europe. Some may dispute this, but facts are facts. At the same time, we have a capacity and performance issue and it’s not going away. We have to be able to cope in the future – otherwise we face the "doom scenario" I just outlined.

This was all agreed by Member States in 2004, when they signed up to working towards a European ATM system that gives safety and environmental benefits with enough capacity to cope competitively with the projected traffic increase. Since then, it’s true that we have had the economic crisis and downturn in demand for air travel. This was when, in 2009, air traffic in Europe fell and then began to recover – very slowly – up to 2012, which was a year marked by economic weakness in much of Europe. Economic growth is now expected to return, stabilising at about 3% a year, according to Eurocontrol.

That dip in traffic in the last few years helped to alleviate the capacity crunch that was the main driving force for SES I. But since it takes a long time to build new capacity, we need to prepare for the pick-up in traffic that statistics show us has already started. Again, we have to act now . If we don’t, the long delays of the late 1990s will return. That will cost us, economically and in terms of slowing down growth.

So I would now like to hear from you if my assumptions are completely wrong – since I firmly believe that we cannot afford to sit back and carry on in this way. We cannot continue without reform, otherwise we might as well forget the whole Single European Sky project, for the very good reasons I have already mentioned.

But that reform has to be one which is properly European . There is no point in making piecemeal changes, just as there is no point in having FABs that only exist on paper – which is still what we have today. None of the nine FABs which have been created are fully operational yet. That is despite the binding deadline of December 2012 for Member States to establish and implement them.

So it seems that there is a clear lack of political will in key areas of the Single Sky project such as the FABs. At the same time, I hear calls for reform, but only on a national basis – of certification agencies, for example – and voices calling for a repatriation of national responsibilities. How then do we – Europe as a whole – achieve the full economies of scale that we agreed was the aim of the original SES project? Please reflect on this. Do Member States really want to take this step backwards? And what should be the future role for Eurocontrol? Can we really afford to continue without reforming it – should we perhaps set up a European ATM agency instead?

Ministers, ladies and gentlemen: I think we all know that the main problem is that Europe's air traffic management systems are fragmented and inefficient. While we are not looking for a "one size fits all" Single Sky, we do need to make sure that the objectives and conditions across Europe are the same. Airspace users should enjoy the benefits of a genuinely integrated operating airspace. That is how costs will fall, while performance and efficiency rise.

Lastly, a few words on air traffic management. I do not believe that we can look forward to any meaningful change in this area unless the industry is engaged in modernisation. It is, after all, the industry which plays a vital role in improving the system’s performance.

Support services are today the biggest cost driver in air traffic management. They are a major source of inefficiency when compared, for example, with the United States, which covers a similar-sized airspace with a single provider – unlike the 38 providers that we have in Europe. The US system controls 84% more flight hours with 7% fewer controllers. It also costs nearly 40% less per flight hour. The main causes for this difference in productivity are Europe’s shortcomings in setting up and enforcing the performance scheme, ineffective supervisory authorities and the disproportionally high number of support staff working for the service providers.

Our institutional set-up needs to set the direction, targets and support policies. Large parts of ATM in Europe are a natural monopoly and here, there has be strong governance. Not only do we need ambitious – but realistic – performance targets, we have to make sure they are not watered down and do get achieved. At the same time, the industry should be given the right incentives and freedom to come up with the best ways to achieve those targets. This is why SES 2+ aims to give industry more freedom to operate and open new business opportunities. That means more hands-off economic regulation through the process of setting performance targets.

Some have said that I am being unrealistic. With the efficiency improvements that we are asking for – and urgently need if the Single Sky is ever to become a reality - I don’t think so. Ambitious? Yes, because it is my job to be ambitious. What I am proposing is done on that basis and also on the assumption that I have your support.

We have all agreed that this project is important. We also owe it to European citizens to deliver an aviation system that is competitive. In turn, that will help the European aviation sector to create more jobs in the airlines and at airports. The faster the Single European Sky is implemented, the quicker the expected returns will materialise – to everyone’s benefit.

Thank you for your attention.

Figure of the month

950 billion euro

In 2011 private households in the EU-27 spent € 950 billion or roughly 13% of their total consumption on transport related items.

Read more statistics on EU transport in our 2013 pocket book

We were asked about...

How does the Commission see the way forward for the NAIADES II programme for inland waterways with a smaller budget? What is the minimum budget necessary for proper implementation?

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Rule 117

Corien Wortmann-Kool (PPE)

Subject: Naiades programme

In May 2013 the Commission will be launching the long-awaited Naiades II action plan for the 2014-2020 period.

This ambitious follow-up programme aims to produce an increase in the share of traffic carried by inland waterways and boost its environmental subsidy until 2020. Transport by inland waterways delivers a sizeable CO2 saving of between 43 and 63 % in comparison to road transport and thus delivers an important contribution to resource efficiency and CO2 emissions reduction for our transport system.

Transport by inland waterways has a vital part to play in solving the problems of ever-increasing traffic jams and capacity shortfalls on our roads. The issue of traffic jams gives rise to major costs and affects the competitiveness of our businesses. In countries like the Netherlands, a substantial increase in the modal share of inland waterways transport is indispensable in order to manage further increases in traffic volume.

Meanwhile, the agreement on the Multiannual Financial Framework (2014-2020) in the Council will result in a reduction of the budget for the Connecting Europe Facility.

  1. How does the Commission see the way forward for the Naiades II programme with a smaller budget, given that we have already seen from the mid-term review of the first Naiades programme (SEC(2011)0453 final) that there were shortcomings in implementation as a result of insufficient funds?
  2. What measures does the Commission view as important in order to increase inland waterways transport’s modal share and to boost its environmental subsidy?
  3. What minimum budget does the Commission view as necessary for the proper and efficient implementation of these measures?




Answer given by Mr Kallas

on behalf of the Commission


The Commission considers that inland waterway should play an important role as an economic, energy-efficient and safe mode of transport for the EU transport system. In order to help inland waterway transport to increase its modal share and to improve its environmental performance,
the Commission is planning the renewal of the NAIADES action programme[1] for the period 2013-2020. The programme will focus on the quality aspects of this transport mode including improvement of the inland waterway infrastructure network, innovation, emission reduction, jobs and skills and the integration of inland waterway transport into the multimodal logistic chain.

At EU level, the financing of the programme will come from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)[2] for infrastructure investments and for the greening of the fleet as well as from HORIZON 2020 for innovation and research and development. The details of the specific actions of the programme and their financing will be worked out when the details of the CEF and HORIZON 2020 instruments which are currently under discussion in the Council and Parliament are known.

[1] COM (2011) 665

[2] COM (2006) 6 final

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