Opinion 04/2013

Alignment of the EASA and the Single European Sky frameworks through the SES2+ initiative

This Opinion addresses the impact on the EASA system of the forthcoming SES2+ initiative for the simplification and modernisation of the SES legislation and for the alignment of the EASA and the SES frameworks. The SES2+ initiative includes several proposals, one of which aims to amend Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Aviation Safety Agency (the Basic Regulation).

The EASA system is the European aviation framework covering all domains (airworthiness, air operations, flight crew licencing, ATM/ANS and airports). Its aim is to ensure a high uniform level of safety and also a level playing field for the aviation industry, to promote free movement and regulatory efficiencies as well as to assist Member States in fulfilling their ICAO obligations. It contains measures to directly prepare binding rules and means of compliance, to monitor their implementation, to act as an oversight body as well as to analyse safety risks and take mitigation measures as necessary. The main objective of SES is to improve the overall efficiency of the way the European airspace is organised and managed. SES has been developed through two legislative packages (SES I & II), the latter including EASA’s extension to ATM/ANS as its safety pillar. The SES and the EASA frameworks are therefore closely interdepended and new SES developments have a direct impact on the EASA system. When SES II was approved and certain competencies were transferred to EASA, the existing competencies in the SES regulations were left intact, which created a regulatory overlap. The issue was addressed by the European legislator by inserting a new Article 65a in the Basic Regulation requiring the Commission to propose amendments to the SES regulations to take into account the requirements of the Basic Regulation and its implementing rules. SES2+ aims to remove this overlap and to amend the Basic Regulation accordingly.

Moreover, it intends to further harmonise the regulatory approach in ATM and other aviation domains in order to enhance safety and the regulatory efficiency as well as to ensure legal certainty. In other domains the technical regulation is incorporated in the EASA framework to serve its defined objectives, whereas economic regulation is performed by the Commission. In the ATM domain the situation partly differs; the technical regulations are stemming from various sources. The approach of the SES2+ initiative is to incorporate technical regulations covering all aviation domains in the EASA framework. SES2+ also proposes to strengthen the EASA framework to enable and facilitate a coordinated entry into operation of the various technological innovations stemming from the SES technical research under its SESAR initiative touching upon all aviation domains, and especially the airborne and ground equipage and procedures.

This Opinion presents the views of the Agency on the policy underpinning the SES2+ initiative and on the Commission proposal to amend the Basic Regulation for the implementation of the said proposed policy.