Brussels forced to broaden competitive scope

Brussels has backtracked on limiting the ability of European air traffic control agencies to band together in significant numbers in order to provide cross-border services.

The decision to re-write provisions contained in draft legislation termed SES II+ – which aims to speed up the delivery of the Single European Sky through opening up support services to competition – was taken at this week’s first meeting between European transport ministers and Violeta Bulc, the new European Commissioner for transport and mobility.

The Commission has been a champion of liberalising cross-border services such as communication, navigation and meteorological services although critics have warned that draft regulations were misguided as they allowed cooperation  between a maximum of two European air traffic control bodies and one provider from outside the European Union.

That meant that the draft SES II+ regulations effectively banned the establishment of an effective pan-European force for such comprehensive projects as terrestrial and/or air-ground communications which would help remove all duplication and optimise harmonisation across Europe’s entire airspace region.

Brussels said it would now study if some support services could be best provided by either Eurocontrol or groups of providers which would lend support to both the Eurocontrol Centralised Service initiative and industry initiatives being established by bodies such as the A6 alliance.

The Commission has also relented on the current system of performance targets related to safety, the environment, capacity and cost efficiency.

Administered by the Performance Review Board within Eurocontrol, Brussels has struck a deal with European transport ministers to allow it to apply more dynamism and flexibility in the process of setting EU-wide and local performance plans.

“It sets up a dialogue between the stakeholders and provides for a revision of the performance plan or the local targets where required,” it said.

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