The Current State of Play: The Riga Declaration

  • 18 months ago many of us gathered in Riga à  Riga Declaration.

  • It contains five guiding principles. How have we done?

The Riga Declaration called for:

  • Simple and performance based rules. The operation centric approach is in view.

  • Work to take place on harmonised rules at the global level. Work in progress. We have engaged at international level such as  ICAO + JARUS;

  • Timely delivery of rules. Work is in progress on the EASA regulation, which delivers the essential framework for drones, and here the Parliament and Council are finalising their positions.  We will enter the final phase of our legislative process [conciliation] early next year.

  • Adequate investment. Work in progress. The EU has put €44M into R&D (H2020) on the integration of drones into the airspace as well as EFSI. .

  • Public acceptance.Definitely work in progress. Whatever we do, public acceptance, for example by integrating safeguards on privacy, security, environmental protection clearly into our thinking – is absolutely key.We have to work on this together.

A Drone Ecosystem.

Today is about mapping the future.  What is to come? What is our vision? What will the drone ecosystem look like?

  • We have a disruptive technology that will be based on full automationThis means the full automation of all functions from piloting to air traffic management.This is complex, so it's important we are coherent.

  • This best way to do that is at European level, by creating the conditions for a domestic EU market. But how? àYour input is crucial, to avoid disjointed national markets & regulations and to develop EU-based solutions.

  • Drones will speed up the development of new business models and opportunities. This is exciting, but a clear framework for operators and investors is a prerequisite.

  • The drone ecosystem, if developed correctly, will see new and innovative drone services integrated into the value chain.

 Drone Services Market.

  • The size of drone services market will depend on:

    - how quickly the key technologies take off,

    - how prepared European businesses are to develop new business models to exploit the potential of drones

  • The EU single aviation market made air travel easy, accessible and cheap in the past two decades. The next decades will be dominated by Drones.

  • As we saw with the internet and smartphones, the prize will go to those who can best combine technologies into a single platform.  So, our approach must be flexible, to keep the ecosystem as open as possible.

    So what will this be worth economically? There huge discrepancies that appear between the numerous studies on the market value of drone services. Depending on the approach taken, the figures vary from a few billion euro in 2035 to more than a hundred billion even by 2020. (Depending on whether production of drones is taken into account or services provided)

What are the Challenges?

  • Full automation of pilot-flying and ATM at the same time. What standard for technologies used? Will there be full integration worldwide?

  • Traffic will become denser. Which drones should have priority in the sky, and who should decide? 

  • We will also see single operator for multiple drones. Who will the operator be? A private delivery company? A city? A region?

  • The drone will become a normal commodity for many people. But how can we keep the trust of our citizens on safety & privacy  concerns?

  • Because of so many unknowns, there is also a challenge to future-proof legislation to deliver an effective ecosystem.Andat the same time, we have to move fast on the legislative side. We cannot take a backseat to the US or to Asia on this. I want us to lead globally.

Creating an EU drone ecosystem

What do we need to allow safe drone operations?

  • Pillar 1: drones and drone operations. 

  • EASA's Basic Regulation: Good progress on revising this Regulation.We expect it to be agreed next year. EASA has also published more detailed prototype rules and is currently consulting Member States on them.Our goal is to create a flexible framework to deal with fast evolving technology. The key aspect here is the operation centric approach to keep rules simple and proportionate to the risk of the type of operation.

  • Pillar 2: Airspace dimension. There are tough issues like geo-fencing to be dealt with.  Drone traffic regulation will have to adapt to local characteristics to support safety, security, privacy and environmental protection. The airspace requirements will provide tools to local authorities to protect citizens.

  • Automated air traffic management will serve as the enabler for safe operations, particularly in the complex urban environment.

  • Pillar 3: U-Space:  This is  about access to airspace. Each citizen or company should be able in principle to have access to low level airspace. I propose to call this U-Space. The U may be for urban but it is above all also for You; for each citizen and for each company to safely and efficiently use this airspace.

 The U-Space

  • Let me say a word more about this 3rd pillar.

  • There are three types of airspaces in our skies.

    • the space-space, (space flights);

    • the upper space where the commercial air traffic is currently flying;

    • the lower level space (most drone operations), which is the U-Space.

  • The U-Space establishes the overall framework for registration, identification and geofencing requirements to reassure our citizens on safety, security, and privacy.

The challenge is to join up the dots; to focus on the interfaces of the U-Space system. So:

  1. The EU is committed to establishing a U-Space as the cornerstone for safe and secure drone operations that respect privacy and environmental protection;

  2. Next year we will put forward concrete proposals on how to organise the U-Space; and how to move forward;

  3. And today I am tasking the key players such as EASA and SJU to work closely together with my services to make U-Space a reality by 2019.

Funding the drone ecosystem

1. Grants through SESAR

  • Under Horizon 2020, the EU has already committed €44m of traditional grants through SESAR on the integration of drones into the airspace. This is made up of:

    • €9m call for exploratory research, open to all industry with overwhelming interest;

    • €30m call for industrial R&D open for members of the SESAR Joint Undertaking.

    • And a €5m call for very large demonstrators. The call is also open to all and will be opened very soon.

  • But traditional grants alone will not be enough if we want to be global leaders in creating a drone ecosystem.

2. Inducement Prizes

3. Innovative Financial Mechanisms such as:

  • EFSI

  • Blending

Coordination and cooperation:

So how we are going to pull this altogether? 

  • On coordination - so far so good - EASA, SESAR JointUndertaking, cooperation with the military European Defence Agency, JARUS. We are ready to work in ICAO for international air transport, cooperation with US/FAA is ongoing; and we have a close dialogue with member states in different fora.

  • The prize à to facilitate the safe development of EU drones market.  So I am announcing today a task force to coordinate with industry to:

    • ensure we monitor developments;

    • work to deliver standards;

    • tackle research funding gaps;

    • speed-up deployment.

Where to from here?

Are we ready for the challenge?

The Commission is ready to go as fast as you are. 

  • Together, we will create a flexible and enabling framework for access to the U-Space for citizens and for businesses;

  • I commit today to look for innovative ways of funding projects demonstrating the maturity of existing technologies and the feasibility of the requirements;

  • Enhanced coordination mechanisms are crucial so that all areas of concern are covered and that the deployment of the drone ecosystem can be well monitored.

  • My vision is to see drones starting to become part of our daily lives by the end of the Juncker Commission, without fear and anger from our citizens.So my cards are on the table.Are you ready to meet this challenge by 2019?

Thank you