European Commissioner for Transport
Aviation is both a strong sector for the European Union’s economy, and an increasingly important means of transport for EU citizens and businesses. Enhanced connectivity, cheaper tickets and more flying options have made it easier than ever before for Europeans to connect with their relatives, develop their business or simply take a spontaneous holiday! The growth of aviation is also providing the EU with a consistently growing pool of jobs, and helps regional development by attracting activity and investments. The success story of European aviation is destined to go on for the upcoming decades! All trends indicate a sustained increase in demand from EU citizens for air travel until 2040.
But growth for the sake of growth cannot be an objective in itself. Aviation has externalities that cannot be overlooked. Indeed, as air traffic increases year on year, the same holds true for environmental and health impacts. This is why the European Commission considers it a priority that the future growth of aviation goes hand in hand with sustainability policies. The EU is firmly committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement. To achieve its objectives, the Commission has put forward ‘A Clean Planet for all’, a strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy by 2050. We are making an irreversible shift to low and ultimately no-emission mobility – Vision Zero by 2050! The commitment shown by governments to support the sustainable development of aviation, and more largely to create an eco-civilisation hand in hand with the industry, only confirms our longstanding efforts for European citizens to be able to travel by air while leaving a minimal footprint. As a society, we should act together and take smart decisions and bold actions for a cleaner society, to tackle pollution and stay safe in this changing world. In the European Commission, as you can see, we put people at the heart of the common vision.
The second edition of the European Aviation Environmental Report provides a scientific and comprehensive overview of the environmental challenges of aviation in the EU. It gives valuable insight on critical matters in aviation and helps us see the progress achieved and where more work needs to be done. More importantly, it sheds light on the need for Europe to pursue its efforts to invest in developing and deploying innovative solutions in the years to come for our planet and ourselves.
The quality of this report is a good illustration of the excellent collaboration of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, the European Environment Agency, EUROCONTROL and other stakeholders. The Commission highly values this precious cooperation, and I am confident that it will allow at the same time to inform European citizens, and to enlighten the policy decisions in the years to come.
Aviation is a global industry and all parts of the EU aviation network create value. Only a competitive and sustainable air transport sector will allow Europe to maintain its leadership position, in the interest of its citizens and its industry. EU must deliver, and I am confident that we will deliver.
Member of the European Parliament and Chair on Committee of Transport & Tourism
While the benefits of air transport for EU citizens are clear in terms of mobility and connectivity, the sector represents a growing challenge for the environment in the years to come. Indeed, aviation currently accounts for 3% of global carbon emissions and long-term forecasts indicate that air traffic is expected to continue increasing. More than ever, Europe needs to be ambitious in order to meet its climate objectives, and notably to reach the targets set under the Paris Agreement.
Solutions do already exist. The European regulators and industry are acting on multiple fronts to reduce the environmental footprint of aviation. New energy solutions such as sustainable fuels and electrification are on their way. EU funding is enabling research and deployment to optimise aircraft technology as well as air traffic management operations.
In the years to come, the European Union and its Member States will need to continue taking ambitious steps. We can do more! The sector will need enhanced coordination between all aviation actors, an ambitious budget towards reducing environmental externalities, as well as real incentives for the industry to favour sustainable fuels over conventional fossil fuels.