Transport Commissioner, Violeta Bulc, and Vice-President in Charge of Energy Union, Maros Sefcovic, unveiled on Monday the Commission’s new EU aviation strategy which was presented as a “milestone initiative to generate growth for European business, foster innovation and let passengers profit from safer, cleaner and cheaper flights, while offering more connections”.
The strategy includes a ‘Commission Communication’, a proposal for a revision of the Aviation Safety Regulation, a package of requests to negotiate EU-level comprehensive air transport agreements with third countries and an indicative action plan for the years to come with the current “proposal phase” being to be followed by a “negotiation” and an “implementing” phase.
Among some of the concrete measures proposed include: eased security-checks for flights from countries deemed to be safe (the so called “one stop security”), the promotion of shorter and more direct flight paths and the use of new technologies such as drones.
Although, the presentation given by Commissioner Sefcovic mentions, among other things, the “pioneering commitment of Europe to sustainable aviation”; the Commission’s proposal seems once again biased towards raising the profits of the sector (the European Commission’s Work Programme 2015 makes competitiveness a priority), rather than towards addressing the climate change impact - pollution, irritation and health problems linked to it.
Indeed, the new plan has among its main objectives, boosting EU airlines’ competitiveness towards non-EU manufacturing and carrier competition, especially coming from Asia and the Gulf.
During its 23rd Council in Lyon in November, the European Green Party approved a Resolution calling upon EU institutions to build a greener and fairer EU aviation system, a system which should not lead to the social and environmental polluting we see affecting this sector nowadays.
Indeed, European aviation is increasingly contributing to climate change, with both extra/intra-EU aviation activity expected to grow by over 80% between 2010 and 2030. The Greens demand an immediate cut to the fossil fuel and tax subsidies that airlines currently enjoy. These are not only both polluting and harmful, but also distort the competition towards other transport means which could be used and advertised, especially for journeys over relatively short distances. Moreover, the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) should also cover international flights to and from the EU.
Moreover, the liberalisation of the EU aviation industry has brought the emergence of “social dumping” – linked to “shopping around between different countries’ regulations” – which has put considerable downward pressure on employment conditions in the sector. The workers of the aviation sector should be guaranteed a minimum set of social and employment rights regardless of where they work.
For more information about the Greens’ position on the Aviation sector, read the Resolution approved in Lyon.