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The Single European Sky (SES) initiative originated with the European Commission (EC) in 1999 when there was general dissatisfaction with the levels of delay experienced by airlines and passengers. The objectives of the SES legislation are:
- to improve and reinforce safety;
- to restructure European airspace as a function of air traffic flow, rather than according to national borders;
- to create additional capacity, and;
- to increase the overall efficiency of the air traffic management system (ATM).
A High Level Group (HLG) was established by the European Commission to investigate and report on the underlying issues. There was general acceptance by the Member States of the European Union of the HLG's recommendations and four Regulations subsequently came into effect in April 2004. These are:
- The Framework Regulation [EC No 549/2004]
- The Service Provision Regulation [EC No 550/2004]
- The Airspace Regulation [EC No 551/2004]
- The Interoperability Regulation [EC No 552/2004]
EC legislation in the field of Air Traffic Management continues to develop. The legislative development process is being supported, in a number of areas, by Eurocontrol. Eurocontrol is involved in the development of a number of implementing rules on the basis of mandates from the European Commission.
Single European Sky II (SES II)
The European Commission has developed a second package of SES legislation (SES II) with focus on the following four areas.
- SES legislation sharpened to deal with performance and environmental challenges. [EC No 1070/2009]
- Adoption of SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) to provide future technology. [Decision 2009/320/EC: Council Decision of 30 March 2009 endorsing the European Air Traffic Management Master Plan of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) project].
- Extension of the competence of EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) to aerodromes, air traffic management and air navigation services [EC No 1108/2009].
- Action plan for airport capacity, efficiency and safety to be implemented.
Further information on the SES II legislative package is available in IAA Notice S.13.
Applicability in Ireland
It is essential to note that an EC regulation has general application on persons or organisations, is binding in its entirety, and is directly applicable in all Member States.