Unified air traffic control system from 2005

The Parliament and the Council reached an agreement in conciliation on 9 December that paves the way for a single system of air traffic control in Europe, known as the Single European Sky.

On 9 December 2003, representatives from the Council and the Parliament agreed on civil-military co-operation, ‘functional airspace blocks’ and the role of Eurocontrol under the conciliation procedure.

The agreement includes closer co-operation between national military air sectors in order to limit detours civilian planes often have to make to meet various national requirements on no-fly zones.

Another major step forward was the compromise on the reconfiguration of the EU’s upper airspace. Air navigation services are provided in “airspace blocks”, which are airspaces of a defined dimension, in space and time. This reconfiguration of airspace will be based on operational or “functional” requirements regardless of national frontiers.

Eurocontrol will be involved in the preparation of the implementing rules in the field of its competences.


Transport Commissioner, Loyola de Palaciosaid that: "We have reached a milestone in European transport policy. [...] It was indispensable to modernise air traffic management and to tailor it to operators' needs, extending beyond national frontiers. The single European sky will allow air passengers to benefit from higher quality of service and will create new opportunities for service-providers in the European Union."

The leader of Parliament's delegation,EP Vice-President Giorgos Dimitrakopoulos (EPP-EP, GR), and EP rapporteurs Giovanni Fava (PES, I) and Marieke Sanders-Ten Holte (ELDR, NL)warmly welcomed this conciliation agreement. They said they had not really expected a compromise to be reached on such sensitive issues and warned, however, that the agreement was just part of a step-by-step procedure and that there was still a long way to go before a European Single Sky was ready for take-off.

ETF, the transport workers organization,gave a cautious welcome to the outcome of this package. Speaking on behalf of ETF, Iacopo Prissinotti, said "the conciliation has achieved the right balance between the needs of Europe and the needs of workers. Now we need to start to have some serious negotiations with the employers organisation CANSO and with the Commission to establish a proper framework for the development of the Single European Sky."


Differences in national rules and organisations related to air traffic control have lead to congestion in the skies and delays for passengers.

The package of Commission proposals (a framework regulation and three technical regulations) for establishing a single European sky aims to transform the European Union’s sky into an integrated airspace, subject to co-ordinated air traffic control services, by 31 December 2004.

On 3 July 2003, MEPs voted in second reading on the single European sky proposals. The Parliament, contrary to the Council, considered that Member States should work towards full integration of civil and military airspace and traffic flow management. This controversial issue led to a conciliation procedure. (See

EURACTIV, 7 July 2003)


The agreement reached in a conciliation committee must now be formally approved by the Parliament and the Council.


Subscribe to our newsletters