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Single European Sky: Council Agrees Its Position on Air Traffic Management Reform

On 3 June 2021, the Council agreed its position (‘general approach’) on the reform of the Single European Sky. The aim of the reform is to improve European airspace management and the air navigation services system in order to increase capacity, improve cost-efficiency and increase the system’s ability to adapt to variations in traffic, while also trying to reduce aviation’s CO₂ footprint.

The package consists of an amended proposal for the recast of the Single European Sky regulation (SES 2+) and a proposal for a regulation amending the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) basic regulation.

Pedro Nuno Santos, Minister for Infrastructure and Housing of Portugal, President of the Council states that: "Any aviation reform must put safety first. And it is member states who are responsible for the safety of their airspace under the Chicago convention, just like they are responsible for safety, security and defence in general. No sector has suffered more from the COVID crisis than aviation. It is therefore crucial that the reforms be based on thorough analysis, and that they do not increase costs for airlines, air navigation service providers or any other stakeholders."


This agreement on the Council’s general approach allows the presidency to launch talks with the European Parliament on the final text.

Since 2004, the European Union (EU) has competences in air traffic management (ATM) and the decision-making process has moved away from an intergovernmental practice to the EU framework. ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network) notes that national supervisory authorities have a key role to in the implementation of the Single European Sky and they should therefore facilitate cooperation among them in order to enable the exchange of best practices and procedures as well as to develop a common approach, including through enhanced cooperation at the regional level.


The Commission launched the Single European Sky initiative in 1999 to improve the performance of air traffic management and air navigation services through better integration of European airspace. The last major legislative initiative within the SES framework, SES 2, was concluded in 2009.

The current, amended proposal from September 2020 follows an interim update of the SES rules, called SES 2+, which was proposed by the Commission in 2013 but was never concluded.

Source: Council of the EU Press Releases


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