Effective transport systems are central to European companies’ ability to compete in the world economy. For Ireland, a country reliant on exports and isolated from the EU geographically, an efficient and functioning air transport and freight system with increased capacity is essential.
Can the Commission outline how delivery of the Single European Sky is progressing? What is the anticipated timeline for delivering the Single European Sky? How does the Commission expect the Single European Sky to benefit export-based businesses, frequent air travellers and those reliant on air travel?
The Commission believes in the importance of an effective transport systems as an enabler for economic growth in Europe. The White Paper "Roadmap to a Single European transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system" builds on this principle.
The Single European Sky is one of the main initiatives to make air transport more efficient, environmentally friendly and safe while coping with the expected traffic growth. The European Air Traffic Management system is therefore being modernised. The final objective is to move away from national air traffic control systems and gradually evolve towards an integrated system regardless of national borders.
The Single European Sky II legislative package emphasises the importance of a performance of this fragmented system. Performance is today measured in concrete indicators relating to safety, cost-efficiency, flight-efficiency and punctuality. Clear targets have been set to promote change and Member States' compliance with these targets will be evaluated. In addition, the legislators have also indicated concrete avenues for reforming air traffic control systems, such as creating the functional airspace blocks and setting up a network manager (Eurocontrol).
While the regulatory framework is finally in place, it is now up to Member States and the service providers to demonstrate that they respect their obligations. The year 2012 will definitely be a crucial to judge the extent to which the Single European Sky has been delivered.
It is clear that some Member States have not made much progress in setting up the FABs. On the other hand Ireland has embraced the Single European Sky initiative and is actively cooperating within the established UK-Ireland FAB. Underpinned by the 'design and build' concept, the governing bodies of the cooperation are continually identifying opportunities for performance improvements, creating new areas of work to satisfy the needs of airspace users and air navigation service providers alike. Simultaneously concrete steps towards integration of elements of activity at the level of the air navigation service provision are happening as part of the FAB work but also in a wider context. The recently signed Memorandum of Cooperation between the main air navigation service providers in the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden is proof of this and will lead to enhanced integration also on the regulatory side changing the existing FAB map in Europe.