Documents considered by the Committee on 4 May 2016 Contents

7Aviation safety

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny

Document details

Proposed Council Decision on the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union, in respect of proposed decisions of Eurocontrol’s Permanent Commission

Legal base

Articles 100(2) and 218(9) TFEU, —, QMV

Department

Transport

Document Numbers

(37711), 8249/16, COM(16) 226

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

7.1Eurocontrol is, with 41 members, the pan-European intergovernmental organisation for the safety of air navigation services. Since 2012, Eurocontrol has initiated a programme to assess and demonstrate the operational, technical and financial feasibility of centralising the provision of certain air navigation services which are currently provided by individual air navigation service providers. In late 2015, as a result of EU objections Eurocontrol’s Permanent Commission did not authorise the Eurocontrol Agency to progress centralised services work beyond feasibility work.

7.2Since then the Agency has continued to develop its proposed centralised services. It is now seeking agreement from the Permanent Commission to progress one of those services, that is, to develop financing, procurement arrangements and technical specifications needed to deploy new European air/ground data communication services. The Commission accepts that this matter is now ready for further progress and proposes a Council Decision to allow Member States in Eurocontrol to support a Permanent Commission decision to that effect.

7.3The Government shares the Commission’s assessment, which is supported also by the UK’s air navigation services provider, NATS, and finds the proposed Council Decision appropriate.

7.4As this particular Eurocontrol Agency now seems ready to be progressed we clear the document from scrutiny.

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Council Decision on the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union, in respect of the decisions to be adopted by Eurocontrol’s Permanent Commission, on Centralised Services: (37711), 8249/16, COM(16) 226.

Background

7.5Eurocontrol (European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation) is the pan-European intergovernmental organisation for the safety of air navigation services. It has 41 member countries, that is all EU Member States and 13 non-EU countries.24

7.6The EU has a Single European Sky programme to deliver a seamless, safe, sustainable, efficient and interoperable European air traffic management system capable of meeting future capacity needs and not artificially constrained by national borders. This is to be achieved in cooperation with Eurocontrol. This arrangement has the EU as the single regulator and Eurocontrol as the technical and operational delivery partner in view of its considerable expertise and experience.

7.7Since 2012, Eurocontrol has initiated a programme to assess and demonstrate the operational, technical and financial feasibility of centralising the provision of certain air navigation services which are currently provided by individual air navigation service providers. The Commission successfully argued in 2015 that it was premature to agree to move this work beyond feasibility to demonstrator phase, because the EU did not have sufficient information to evaluate the impacts of such a decision. As a result a Council Decision was agreed in December 2015 which mandated Member States to defer any such decision. This meant that the Permanent Commission of Eurocontrol also deferred the decision to progress centralised services work beyond feasibility work.25

The document

7.8Since December 2015 the Eurocontrol Agency has continued to develop its proposed centralised services. It is now seeking agreement from the Permanent Commission to progress one of those services. It seeks approval to develop financing, procurement arrangements and technical specifications needed to deploy new European air/ground data communication services (EAGDCS). These would allow transfer of air traffic control data electronically between air traffic control organisations and aircraft in a harmonised way across Eurocontrol countries. This would have the effect of reducing congestion on voice radio communication frequencies.

7.9As the Council Decision of December 2015 on centralised services still applies to all centralised services work, a further Council Decision is needed to allow Member States to express a positive position on progressing the data links work. The Commission has therefore proposed such a Council Decision. But it has proposed several conditions in the text to ensure coherence with other EU work. It wishes to ensure:

The Government’s view

7.10In his Explanatory Memorandum of 28 April 2016 the Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill), says that the Government is committed to examining ways to make air navigation services more efficient and reduce their costs to airspace users; which in turn should reduce costs to passengers.

7.11The Minister continues that:

Previous Committee Reports

None.


25 See (37319), 14049/15 + ADD 1: Eleventh Report, HC 342-xi (2015–16), chapter 10 (2 December 2015).




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10 May 2016