Single sky reform: Council and Parliament strike a deal to improve efficiency of air space management in the EU

The Council presidency and the European Parliament’s negotiators reached a provisional agreement on the reform of the Single European Sky. The aim of the reform is to improve the performance, organisation and management of European airspace and the provision of the air navigation services to increase capacity, lower costs and increase the system’s adaptability, while also trying to reduce aviation’s impact on environment and climate.

The legislative package consists of an amended proposal for the recast of the Single European Sky regulation (SES 2+) and a proposal for a regulation amending the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) basic regulation.

Main objectives of the reform

The provisional agreement retains the key objectives of the Single European Sky: the reform must respond to capacity needs, and help cut climate and environmental footprint, while being cost-effective. It should also contribute to the regulation of drones.

The new rules open the way to improving the climate and environmental performance of airspace management, notably through the extension of binding targets for terminal services in the environmental and climate area and the modulation of charges to incentivise the improvement of environmental performance by airspace users. An independent, permanent and professional Performance Review Board is set up, to advise the Commission on the implementation of the Performance and Charging Schemes.

Key elements of the provisional agreement

The main elements of the provisional agreement between the co-legislators can be summarised as follows:

A national supervisory authority is designated by the member state to assess compliance of air navigation service providers with economic requirements, such as financial sustainability and organisational structure, in cooperation with the national competent authority in charge of the certification of air navigation service providers.

The air navigation service providers and the national supervisory authority can be part of the same organisation provided they are functionally separated and meet independence requirements.

It will also be possible for member states to merge economic and safety oversight functions in the same administrative entity. This solution cuts red tape and adapts to existing organisational models.

Member states may decide to authorise the opening of certain air navigation services to market conditions.

National supervisory authorities and the Commission will together assess the performance of air navigation services, in accordance with the subsidiarity and proportionality principles. The Commission is assisted in this process by a performance review board (PRB), which has an advisory role. The PRB is established as a stable and permanent entity and will be funded by the EU budget.

Mandatory modulation of en route charges will be introduced to encourage airspace users to support improvements in climate and environmental performance, such as the use of the most fuel-efficient available routing or increased use of alternative clean propulsion technologies, after a cost-benefit analysis determines that such a modulation is feasible and presents an added value.

The provisional agreement also strengthens the network perspective by adding new network functions and by giving the current network manager, Eurocontrol, additional, clearly delineated tasks so that it can better contribute to the sustainable and efficient use of the airspace.

Next steps

The provisional agreement is now subject to approval by the Council and the European Parliament. On the Council’s side, the Belgian presidency intends to submit the text to the member states’ representatives (Coreper) for endorsement as soon as possible.

Once approved, the draft legislative acts will be submitted to a legal/linguistic review before being formally adopted by the co-legislators, published in the EU’s official journal, and entering into force 20 days after their publication.

Source: Council of the EU | Press release (