Europe needs an ambitious social agenda in aviation

3 Oct 2018

The European aviation sector has enjoyed huge growth during the last years. In the same time, it is also facing major challenges such as airspace saturation, enormous competitive pressure and unfair practices from some third countries, as well as unresolved questions concerning social rights. Ongoing disputes and repeated strikes in many EU member states are just one illustration of the current discontent of employees in the sector.

Ahead of the Aviation summit organised by the Austrian Presidency of the Council, the Ministers of Transport of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg and The Netherlands have signed a common Declaration on a social agenda in aviation. The Ministers have taken this initiative in order to highlight the importance of fair working conditions for the aviation sector, to underline the need for a coherent application of existing national and European social rights and protection.

The six Member States also call upon the European Commission, following its aviation strategy published in 2015, to work further on concrete and effective measures to tackle the major existing unresolved issues. As aviation is by its nature a largely international business, a coherent European approach- steered by the Commission – is needed to provide a level playing field for a fair competition amongst all the actors of the sector. In times of a looming international pilots and aircrew shortage, ensuring a “socially responsible connectivity” will in the end benefit all: employers, employees and passengers. The Declaration remains open for other EU member States to join in and to promote the need for a meaningful Social Agenda in Europe’s aviation.

Meanwhile, the aviation social partners ETF, ECA and ACP have also issued a statement which insists that airlines and European crew associations see an urgent need to act in order to ensure appropriate social standards and a fair level-playing field in the European aviation market. This has to include:

  • enforcement of existing EU & national legislation by all Member States
  • clarification of current rules
  • legislative changes to certain provisions of the current EU legal framework

With workers, airlines and member states all asking for change it is clear that the time has come for the EU to act on social dumping in European aviation.