First Report on the Implementation of Single Sky Legislation

First Report on the Implementation of Single Sky Legislation


The Single Sky initiative was launched in 2000 following severe delays during 1999. The European Commission tabled a legislative package at the end of 2001 which was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in March 2004 and entered into force one month later.

This legislative package comprised four elements: the “Framework regulation”, the “Service provision regulation”, the ”Airspace regulation” and the ”Interoperability regulation”. Article 12§2 of the “Framework regulation” requires the European Commission to review the application of the Single Sky legislation and report periodically to the European Parliament and the Council.

This report was published on 20 December 2007.


The first report on the progress of Single European Sky implementation lays down the European Commission's views on the need for future development of the Single European Sky (SES). It also takes up many of the recommendations made by a second High Level Group (HLG) convened by the Vice-President of the Commission to look at the future European Aviation Regulatory Framework.


The report provides an assessment of the Single European Sky by pointing out the achievements, the areas of ongoing development and the key areas of unsufficient progress. It identifies the new challenges the European ATM network is confronted with and sets the strategy for accelerating SES implementation.


  • Establishment of the institutional framework for Community action. The framework provides a structure for the partnership with all interested parties: States, European Commision, EUROCONTROL, the industry and the military.
  • Separation of air navigation service provision from regulation by establishsing National Supervisory Authority (NSA) responsible for the certification of air navigation service providers.
  • Establishment of a safety oversight function to be exercised by NSAs.
  • Harmonised level of competence and an improved mobility of air traffic controllers through adoption of Directive 2006/23 - Community Air Traffic Controller Licence|Directive 2006/23/EC on a Community air traffic controller license (repealed by Regulation (EU) No 805/2011), which establishes common requirements on licensing and training of air traffic controllers.
  • Transparency in the establishment of air navigation service charges through Regulation (EC) No 1794/2006 laying down a common charging scheme for air navigation services (later repealed by Regulation 391/2013), which requires disclosure of the cost base of the service provider and consultation of airspace users.
  • Improved flexible use of airspace and access to military airspace, and harmonisation of airspace classification in the upper airspace
  • Establishment of the SESAR definition phase and SESAR Joint Undertaking to speed up technological innovation and capcity increase.
  • Establishment of an interoperability mechanism to adopt implementing rules and to develop Community specifications concerning technical systems and their operational use.

Ongoing Developments

  • Establishment of a framwork for performance review and benchmarking of air navigation service providers.
  • Establishment of mechanism for peer review of the NSAs.
  • Greater transparency in the determination, imposition and enforcement of charges for air navigation services.
  • Establishment of a European Upper Flight Information Region (EUIR); harmonised airspace classification in the lower airspace; common principles for route and sector design.
  • Establishment of Functional Airspace Blocks (FAB).

Key Areas of Insufficient Progress

  • The FAB approach is not producing the benefits hoped for in terms of improved flight efficiency, cost reduction and “defragmentation”. The creation of FABs is a new challenge and suffers from significant technical and organisational difficulties, sovereignty, particularly concerning Member States responsibilities and associated liability for their airspace. The involvement of the military remains an issue.
  • Member States have not made sufficient use of the SES powerful tools to improve cost and operational efficiency of air navigation service provision.


  • Reduce civil aviation impact on the environment and climate change by significantly decreasing flight times, fuel use and costs through improvement of the network architecture, more efficient use of routes and new operational procedures.
  • Improve economic efficiency of air navigation service provision and flight efficiency.

Strategy for Accelerating SES Implementation

  • Focus on improved performance - to achieve the required improvements in safety, efficiency, capacity and cost effectiveness, it is considered necessary to introduce a performance driven approach, i.e. setting of specific performance targets, incentives and disincentives.
  • Adoption of a true network approach for the development of the European ATM architecture. A network manager, representing all aviation stakeholders, including the military, should be responsible for improving route and sector design from a network perspective and be the backbone for reinforcing central capacity planning and traffic flow management services and optimising the use of airport capacity by providing clear rules on network access and efficient use of routes.
  • Accelerate integration of air navigation services into FABs, where appropriate and beneficial. States should politically commit to the creation of FABs in 2010 with implementation by the end of 2012.
  • Achieve significant capacity increase through technological innovation from the SESAR programme, closely coupled with measures to improve airport capacity.
  • Create a clear regulatory environment by extending European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) competence to airports, air navigation services and air traffic management to cover all links in the aviation safety chain.


Air transport is confronted with significant challenges and success in addressing them will only be achieved with collective efforts of Industry, the Member States, the military, third countries and the social partners, through full use of the existing SES consultation mechanisms. The European Commission will play its role fully in this process.

On the basis of this review of the implementation of the SES and in line with the conclusions of the Performance Review Commission (of EUROCONTROL) and the High Level Group, the European Commission will come forward, in the second quarter of 2008, with a concrete proposals for a second Single Sky package, the extension of EASA competencies and the SESAR ATM Master plan.

The full text of the report can be viewed here.

Further Reading

European Commission


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