The Single European Sky (SES) initiative to improve air traffic management across the EU addressed a clear need and has led to a greater culture of efficiency. However, European airspace management remains fragmented and the SES as a concept has not yet been realised, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. EU funding for the technical elements of SES has so far reached € 730 million and is due to grow to € 3.8 billion by 2020.
To examine the initiative, the auditors visited government departments, air navigation service providers and national supervisors in five Member States (Spain, France, Hungary, Sweden and the United Kingdom), as well as key policy, operational and industrial stakeholders. They found that the SES was justified because European air traffic management was hindered by national monopolies and fragmentation. The policy is coherent and targets those shortcomings. However, changes in traffic patterns mean that the high-level goals established at the outset have become partly unachievable and partly irrelevant.
“Air transport is an important component of the EU internal market, promoting the mobility of persons and goods while propelling economic growth”, said George Pufan, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “But the single market in Europe clearly does not yet enjoy the benefits of a single sky.”