Single European sky crucial for EU prosperity

The single European sky is essential to boosting growth and employment in Europe, and negotiations must begin as soon as possible, urges Marian-Jean Marinescu.

By Marian-Jean Marinescu

Marian-Jean Marinescu (RO, EPP) is President of the European Parliament’s Sky and Space Intergroup

21 Apr 2015

Europe is facing numerous challenges, and I agree with commission president Jean-Claude Juncker when he says this is the EU's last chance – either policymakers introduce reforms, or they fail.

This is applicable to all sectors, including aviation. We live in a high speed era. Sometimes we need to get from one place to another very quickly and the best way to do this is to travel by plane.

But what should we do when faced with delays, congestion and wasted time between flights? The single European sky (SES) is Brussels' attempt at solving these problems and we need progress.

Looking at our competition, Brazil, Canada, Russia and China all want to secure their place within this strategic industry. We must move with the times – we need SES today, not tomorrow.

It is never easy to draft the perfect text for a report, but as MEPs, we are fully aware of our responsibility to do our best to improve the lives of half a billion citizens. I am parliament's rapporteur on the single European sky, a dossier which was adopted in 2014.


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It is the third piece of pan-European legislation on the management of our community's airspace, and I highly doubt it will be the last. Since the inception of the SES, the EU's enlargement policy, together with an active neighbourhood policy, has extended the European aviation market to 38 countries, turning EU aviation into a global player.

The SES has two main objectives – direct routes and a new airspace configuration. I do not believe the project will result in higher costs for companies, but in order to properly assess its social costs, a proper evaluation must be carried out.

The implementation of the single European sky will definitely have a positive impact on growth, employment and competitiveness in Europe, in particular by increasing demand for jobs requiring advanced qualifications.

Now, after an unnecessarily long period of time, both texts have finally been approved in parliament and council. Unfortunately, council has refused to enter into negotiations with parliament, invoking the UK's opposition to the project because of Gibraltar airport.

This is not in line with the treaty. The text was voted with a qualified majority in council, which means that negotiations should begin. I hope the Latvian EU council presidency will respect the procedure and start the trilogues.

I am confident we will find a common position, but I made the decision not to simply wait for this to happen. In the last two months, with the support of parliament's directorate-general for communication, I organised a series of conferences about SES in key European locations – Maastricht, Bucharest, Warsaw, Vienna, Madrid and Berlin – and up next are Paris and London.

I talked to hundreds of stakeholders and national authorities – all of whom agreed that SES is essential if we want to ensure progress and modernisation in Europe. In aviation, safety is key – it is the most important requirement that should be met by industry stakeholders, beginning with legislators.

Policymakers have a duty to afford the same levels of attention to any person or entity. No one should consider themselves the most important actor and demand special privileges, but passengers must be viewed as the masters of this industry.

At the same time, everyone's opinion must be taken into account when drafting a piece of legislation. If any part of a sector's service delivery chain is not satisfied or convinced by the benefits of a particular piece legislation, then this can compromise the safety and efficiency of that sector's activity.

Whenever I have the wonderful opportunity of being rapporteur on a project, I fully take into account the necessity of holding discussions, fostering dialogue, ensuring respect for other people's opinions and understanding the benefits of compromise.

For me, the single European sky is not a job that is requested of me as part of my statute as an MEP. It is a project that is necessary for the good of air passengers and for the good of Europe. That is why I will continue fighting for SES to become a reality as soon as possible.

 

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