The European Commission on Monday adopted a new Aviation Strategy for Europe, a milestone initiative to boost Europe’s economy, strengthen its industrial base and reinforce its global leadership position.
“A strong and outward-looking aviation sector will not only benefit businesses, but also European citizens by offering more connections to the rest of the world at lower prices“, the Commission said in an announcement.
The Commission’s goal is to shape a comprehensive strategy for the whole EU aviation ecosystem.
In this context, according to the Commission, the priorities are to:
1. Place the EU as a leading player in international aviation, whilst guaranteeing a level playing field. The EU aviation sector must be allowed to tap into the new growth markets. This can be achieved through new external aviation agreements with key countries and regions in the world, which will improve market access, provide new business opportunities for European companies, ensure fair and transparent market conditions based on a clear regulatory framework and provide more connections and better prices for passengers.
2. Tackle limits to growth in the air and on the ground. The main challenge for the growth of EU aviation is to address the capacity, efficiency and connectivity constraints.
3. Maintain high EU standards. In the interest of European citizens and businesses, it is crucial to maintain high EU standards for safety, security, the environment, social issues and passenger rights. The Strategy proposes important measures in this sense, with an update of the EU’s safety rules in order to maintain high safety standards alongside growing air traffic. The Commission will also seek ways to reduce the burden of security checks and costs, through the use of new technology and a risk-based approach.
4. Make progress on innovation, digital technologies and investments. A catalyst for the development of aviation, and its function as an enabler of growth, will be innovation and digitalisation. Europe must in particular unleash the full potential of drones. That is why the Strategy proposes a legal framework to ensure safety and legal certainty for industry and addresses concerns related to privacy and data protection, security and the environment.
Europe’s airspace users’ associations call for more concrete measures
In a joint reaction to the new strategy, the European airspace user associations (AEA, EBAA, EEA, ELFAA, ERA and IACA *) welcomed the initiative to develop and implement an “Aviation Strategy for Europe” but stressed that there is an “urgent need” for the Commission to now propose more specific and far-reaching remedies.
“While the strategy review correctly identifies some of the significant challenges that Europe’s aviation sector is currently facing in terms of the cost and provision of infrastructure (both on the ground and in the air), the integrity of the market, inefficiencies in the value chain and a burdensome regulatory framework (e.g. national and local aviation taxes, the intra-EU ETS), it stops short of proposing concrete measures to address these”, the European airspace user associations said in an announcement on Tuesday.
The associations said they would further engage with the Commission and the European decision makers to request immediate actions and unanimously conclude that “addressing these issues is of crucial importance in order to ensure that aviation becomes a priority sector in Europe. The associations and their members stand ready to assist with the urgently required follow-up work.”
* AEA (Association of European Airlines), EBAA (European Business Aviation Association), EEA (European Express Association) ELFAA (European Low Fares Airline Association), ERA (European Regions Airline Association), IACA (International Air Carrier Association)