The Single European Sky

Related to: Civil Aviation, Single European Sky

The Single European Sky (SES) is an EU project to streamline the management of European airspace. In practice this means moving from a purely national management of airspace and air traffic, towards a series of Functional Airspace Blocks which cross national borders. In all this, the aim is to cut costs and drive the introduction of new technologies in air traffic management (ATM).

Of course the SES vision would mean profound changes for ATM workers, but the ETF is in favour of an SES that is safe, efficient and socially responsible. That means change must come gradually and be undertaken in a considered and measured way. Therefore, we are strongly against forced further liberalisation. Decision on this should be left up to the individual member states. Likewise, any cooperation between providers should be on a voluntary basis and not top-down. Changes should not bring unrealistic service targets or damage the terms and conditions of ATM employees.

The SES project began in 2001, but in 2013 the Commission proposed a series of revisions (the SES II+) which would fragment ATM service providers, impose unreasonable performance requirements based on cost cuts, and undermine quality jobs in ATM support services. Above all, the reform propose a FAB system with no human aspect to recognise the needs and rights of ATM workers. None of this would support the original aims of the SES, and could indeed lead to greater inefficiency or even safety risks.

As a result, ETF affiliates launched industrial actions and strikes in 11 countries, demanding the establishment of a fair, cooperative and social Single European Sky. Our actions provoked major debates in the European Parliament and between member states, which led to revisions of the Commission proposals. However, the final SES II+ legislation remained disappointing, with excessive liberalisation and insufficient attention to safety concerns.

The Single European Sky is a defining policy in EU aviation, with huge consequences for ATM workers and passenger safety. The ETF is determined to continue our efforts for a Single European Sky that respects safety and social concerns

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