New EASA basic regulation: European Parliament blows hot and cold, ETF welcomes introduction social dimension but denounces attack on workers’ rights

10 Nov 2016

The Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament (TRAN) voted today on the amendments to the revision of the “Basic Regulation” setting the framework and competences of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), representing over 250,000 workers across the whole aviation industry, welcomes that some of its long-standing claims such as the interdependence between safety and socio-economic factors have been reflected. However, the indirect attack on the rights of workers in air traffic management through the establishment of minimum service levels is deplorable.

By introducing a new article on the interdependencies between safety and socio-economic factors the TRAN Committee offers a platform for EASA to address the negative social consequences of its safety-focused rulemaking on aviation workers. However, ETF believes that mandatory consultation of social partners both at EU and national level must be included.

It is also regrettable that the TRAN Committee supports the controversial minimum service levels in air traffic management. François Ballestero, ETF Political Secretary for Civil Aviation, commented: “The right to strike is fundamental and we are determined to defend it. The Parliament should not forget that workers protest often in the interest of public safety and not for their own benefit. Furthermore, experience shows that minimum services are not the solution.” 

ETF supports the proposal of the European Commission to include ground handling in the EASA scope as an important part of the safety chain. Unfortunately, both the original proposal as well as the amendments suggest only a ’light’ regulation relying on industry standards and without any certification of staff and providers. Enrique Carmona, ETF Civil Aviation Section President, remarked: “Certification of ground handling staff and providers is essential for maintaining high safety and employment in the industry and to resist to the competitive pressure exerted by the airlines. Other important areas, such as compulsory staffing levels or health risks stemming from air pollution on the tarmac have also been omitted.” 

ETF also welcomes the acknowledgement of the safety role of cabin crew by proposing a certification instead of a current attestation. Nevertheless, this is short of ETF’s demand for a full cabin crew license. Measures against pay-to-fly and public flight cost sharing, which could compromise the existing safety standards, are highly welcomed. Furthermore, the proposed robust rules for drones including the obligation to hold a drone pilot license for commercial operations will ensure their integration into one safety system together with manned aviation. The TRAN Committee also took a firm position against the relaxation of existing rules on wet-leasing which could create an open door for regulatory shopping and ultimately also social dumping.

ETF together with its affiliates thanks those MEPs that have supported our proposals and will continue to fight for improving the proposal until the adoption in plenary. It calls on the European Parliament to take a strong position in the upcoming trialogue with the Commission and the Council in order to ensure democratic legitimacy.

For more information, please contact François Ballestero, mobile +32 474 91 69 79, e-mail: