16. AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT AND AVIATION
Draft Council Decision on the signature by the European Community to the Protocol of accession of the European Community to the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL) and its provisional application.
Opinion of the Commission on the European Parliament's amendments to the common position for a regulation on establishing common rules in the field of civil aviation and creating a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
|Legal base:||(a) Article 80(2) EC and 300 (2); qualified majority voting
(b)Article 80(2) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
|Document originated:||(a) 6 June 2002
(b) 7 May 2002
|Deposited in Parliament:||(a) 12 June 2002
(b) 16 May 2002
|Basis of consideration:||(a) EM of 10 June 2002
(b) EM of 23 May 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None; but see paragraph 16.2 below
|To be discussed in Council:||June 2002
|Committee's assessment:||Legally and politically important
|Committee's decision:||Cleared, but document (a) relevant to the debate on the Single Sky proposals
16.1 The incidence of major air traffic delays in Europe
has highlighted the need to address the fragmentation of the Air
Traffic Management (ATM) system. At present, airspace management
is constrained by national boundaries, with an inflexible allocation
of airspace between the military and civilian sectors.
16.2 We and the previous Committee have reported on a
number of occasions on proposals relating to ATM. Most recently
we reported on the package of measures relating to a Single European
Sky. A debate on
the Single European Sky is expected to be held shortly.
16.3 It has long been recognised that improvements in
ATM within the EU should not unnecessarily duplicate the activities
of Eurocontrol (European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation).
Eurocontrol, which is based in Brussels with a staff of some 1,000,
is an international organisation comprising 31 Members States,
including the 15 Community Member States. It is responsible for
co-operation in air traffic management in order to create a seamless
European ATM system in and around airports. In short, Eurocontrol
acts as a regulator, making decisions about air traffic arrangements
throughout Europe, but also acts as a provider of navigation services,
for example in the Maastricht upper control area. The UK was one
of the six founding members in 1960.
16.4 In June 1998 the Transport Council, under UK Presidency,
agreed a mandate for the Commission to negotiate Community accession
to Eurocontrol. EU Member States agreed that effective development
of air traffic management policies in the Community would be impeded
by having two separate bodies with competence in this area. It
was agreed that the best way for the Community to exercise its
competence and bring its resources to bear in Eurocontrol would
be through accession. Accession, however, was blocked until recently
by a dispute between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar.
16.5 The Regulation to which Document (b) relates, on
establishment of the EASA, the European Aviation Safety Authority
was debated on 25 April 2001 in European Standing Committee A.
16.6 Document (a) relates to the proposed accession to
Eurocontrol. The main elements of the Protocol are outlined by
the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport, Local
Government and the Regions (Mr David Jamieson), as follows:
" the Community will be entitled to be represented
and involved in the work of virtually all bodies of Eurocontrol;
- the Community will have a voting strength equal to the aggregate
votes of its Member States. The Commission will vote on behalf
of the Community on issues subject to exclusive Community competence,
of which there are currently very few. When the Commission votes
in these circumstances, Member States will not vote. Member States
will vote on issues subject to national competence. On issues
of shared competence, Member States will vote in line with any
common position which has been agreed among Community Members.
- to protect the interests of nonEU members of Eurocontrol,
they may request a postponement for up to six months of any decision
on which the Community will vote en bloc;
- the Community will not contribute to the budget of Eurocontrol;
- the scope of the competence transferred to the Community will
be indicated in general terms in a written declaration made by
the Community at the time of signature of the Protocol."
16.7 The Minister notes that the terms of the Protocol
were effectively agreed by the end of 1999 but owing to the disagreement
between the UK and Spain over Gibraltar's inclusion in the territorial
scope of the Protocol, the proposal has been delayed.
16.8 Document (b) is the Commission's opinion on the
European Parliament's amendments to the common position for a
regulation establishing a European aviation safety authority,
or EASA. The Council adopted the common position on 19 December
2001 and the European Parliament adopted a resolution on second
reading containing 28 amendments to the common position on 9 April
2002. The Commission accepts all the European Parliament's amendments.
The Government's view
16.9 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 10 June 2002, the
"The Government believes that Community membership of Eurocontrol
will provide renewed impetus for both the long overdue reform
of the Eurocontrol organisation, and to compel States to make
collective commitments and to implement decisions on measures
to improve the European air traffic management System.
"The Commission is committed to the reform of air traffic
management in Europe. This is demonstrated by its determination
to proceed with its Single European Sky initiative in
which Community accession will form an important element as it
will provide a mechanism to reflect Community rules across the
wider Eurocontrol membership and enable greater synergies between
the two organisations. It is likely therefore that if the Commission
were unable to secure Community membership of Eurocontrol, it
might try and develop the Single Sky further and quicker with
consequences the UK may find difficult to accept."
16.10 Overall, the Government concludes that ratification
of the revised Eurocontrol Convention and Community Accession
to Eurocontrol combined with the Single European Sky will offer
a real opportunity to provide a pan-European regulatory structure
capable of delivering long-term improvements in the ATM system.
16.11 As regards the European Parliament's amendments
to the Common Position on the creation of EASA, the Government
generally supports these. In his Explanatory Memorandum of 23
May 2002, the Minister comments:
"The Government was satisfied that the text agreed at Common
Position had been improved in ways that met the Government's objectives
as set out in EM 14329/00. In particular, the independence of
the Agency had been strengthened and provisions made to ensure
the calibre of its staff. These improvements are further reinforced
by a number of the European Parliament's second reading amendments,
grouped in the Commission's opinion under the headings Appointment
and strengthening of the powers of the Executive Director of the
Agency and Strengthening of the Agency's autonomy.
These amendments are particularly welcomed.
"The other categories of amendments and the Government's
views on them are as follows:
- Extending the scope of the Regulation: the Government
has consistently supported the extension of the EASA system, on
a stepbystep basis, into other areas of aviation safety.
- Settingup of Agencies: the Government recognises
that local offices of the Agency are likely to be required and
agrees with the Commission that advisability of proposing common
rules for the setting up of such offices by all Agencies is for
the Commission to decide.
- Removal of the reference to commercial interests: the
Government welcomes these amendments which ensure that decisions
which should only be taken on the basis of safety and environmental
compatibility considerations will not be influenced by commercial
- Transition: the Government accepts that a transition
period of 42 months is a reasonable balance between the time needed
to meet the practical demands of moving to the new system and
the interests of the industry that dual systems do not continue
longer than necessary.
- Drafting amendments: these are acceptable."
16.12 We note the Minister's observation that Community
accession to Eurocontrol is not expected to have much immediate
effect on air traffic delays. However, it is widely accepted that
the Community's accession is a necessary first step if far-reaching
improvements are to be achieved. The Civil Aviation Authority,
National Air Traffic Services Ltd and the UK-based airlines all
recognise that Community membership of Eurocontrol is an important
part of a long overdue programme of institutional and structural
reform in air traffic management and that it is a major component
of the Single European Sky. We note that airlines strongly support
moves to streamline air traffic services across Europe. We understand
that the Eurocontrol Accession protocol may be adopted at the
Transport Council on 17 June.
16.13 Advice is being sought regarding the legal basis
for the decision not to undertake consultation with the European
Parliament on accession to Eurocontrol. We ask the Minister to
share with us that advice and to keep us informed of developments
on this portfolio generally.
16.14 A debate on the Single European Sky initiative
is expected to take place shortly. We clear both documents, but
document (a) is relevant to that debate.
(20813) 13735/99; see HC 23-viii (1999-2000), paragraph 2 (9 February
2000), HC 23-xxiv (1999-2000), paragraph 2 (12 July 2000); (22802)
12692/01 (22804) 12693/01; see HC 152-vii (2001-02), paragraph
1 (21 November 2001); and (23132) 12692/1/01 (23149) 12693/1/01;
see HC 152-xx (2001-02), paragraph 4 (6 March 2002). Back
expenditure for all of the Agency's activities in 2000 was _509
million, an increase of 3% on 1999. Back
Official Report, European Standing Committee A, 25 April