EU unveils new aviation strategy

Proposals will keep Europe's aviation sector ahead of the curve, say EU chiefs.

By Colin Mackay

09 Dec 2015

European Commission Vice President for energy union Maroš Šefčovič and transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc have launched their long-awaited EU aviation strategy.

According to the two commissioners, the new strategy has been designed to stimulate Europe's economy and to reinforce its industrial sector, to hopefully benefit both businesses and consumers.

Šefčovič described competitive and efficient aviation as, "central to Europe's growth," while Bulc said the new strategy would, "keep the sector ahead of the curve."


Built around four priorities, the new strategy will have a focus on developing stronger relationships with other regions around the world, particularly those in growing markets, creating opportunities for European businesses. This will build upon existing agreements with North America and Brazil.

The Commission also intend to prioritise air traffic congestion and increase the efficiency of existing infrastructure, growing both the sector and the wider European economy. Without this, they warn, capacity constraints at EU airports could cost up to 818,000 jobs by 2035. A key component will be the single European sky project.

Brussels also believes that the new proposals will help maintain and ensure that any growth in the sector takes full account of issues such as environmental concerns, the rights of passengers, safety and security. The Commission also wants to make progress on innovation, digital technologies and investments, with an emphasis on maximising the potential of drones. For this reason, there are specific proposals on privacy and data protection to help provide legal certainty.

The EU will also invest €430m each year in SESAR, the technology platform of the single European sky project. This could create around 300,000 new jobs.

The new initiative was welcomed by the aviation industry, with Sylviane Lust, Director General of IACA, the International Air Carrier Association, applauding the Commission for recognising that aviation was a key driver of growth and jobs and for identifying many of the significant challenges the sector faces.

However, she felt that the proposals, "stopped short of proposing concrete measures to address some of the significant challenges that Europe's aviation sector is currently facing,” including market integrity, value chain inefficiency and the regulatory framework.

Meanwhile, Dirk Polloczek, President of the European Cockpit Association, described the proposals as, "clearly acknowledging the strategic value of aviation in Europe," although he felt that the social dimension of the package did not go far enough.

Simon McNamara the Director General of the European Regions Airline Association said, “We are pleased that the strategy recognises that aviation is a driver of economic growth, jobs, trade and mobility and that a strategic review of the sector is needed to ensure that European aviation remains competitive and maintains its leadership in a global market.

However he also warned that, "many of the strategy’s action points lack substance and will not tackle some of the underlying weaknesses of the industry."