A. GENERAL POLICY QUESTIONS
17. AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT
Letter from the Rt Hon Dr Gavin Strang MP, Minister
for Transport, Department of the Environment, Transport and the
Regions, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee
I am writing further to Explanatory Memorandum 5803/96 COM
(96) 57 FINAL of 18 April 1996 and the Supplementary Memorandum
of 2 July 1996 (copies enclosed), which were produced in response
to the European Commission's White Paper of March 1996 on Air
Traffic Management - Freeing Europe's Airspace".
As you may know, the Lords Committee considered the Community
proposals and produced a report in July 1996 for the information
of the House in which it recommended that the House's attention
be drawn to the important questions raised in the White Paper.
Paragraph 93 on page 18 gave the Committee's view of Community
membership of EUROCONTROL:
The Committee is, therefore, very strongly of the opinion
that the Community should not itself become a member either of
ECAC or EUROCONTROL, or of any new, unified European air traffic
management body that might be established in their place."
The previous Government responded to the report in October
Since the publication of the White Paper, Europe's future
involvement in Air Traffic Management (ATM) has been under consideration
by Member States. At the June 1997 Transport Council, Ministers
were asked to agree conclusions (by unanimity) on the future of
ATM in Europe. Although our agreed line for the Council was that
further work was needed on the practicalities and implications
of Community membership of EUROCONTROL before it would be appropriate
to take a decision, it quickly became clear that all other Member
States did not oppose the principle of the Community becoming
a member of EUROCONTROL. This was the first Transport Council
meeting following the general election. Taking that into account
I did not consider that this was an issue on which we should block
progress unilaterally, so did not oppose the conclusions to the
report. Accordingly, it was agreed inter alia that:
Although there are also other options for Community involvement,
the Council is of the view that membership is the most adequate
form to express the involvement of the Community in EUROCONTROL."
In the conclusions, the Council has instructed COREPER to
prepare a list of the areas of Community competence that could
be included in a draft negotiating mandate on Community membership
of EUROCONTROL. An interim report will be submitted to the December
Council. We expect that Ministers will be asked to vote (by qualified
majority) on a negotiating mandate at that, or a subsequent, Council.
21 October 1997
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee
to The Rt Hon Dr Gavin Strang MP, Minister for Transport, Department
of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Thank you for your letter of 21 October concerning the Commission's
proposal that the Community should become a member of the European
Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL).
You refer to the Committee's report on the subject (15th
Report, 1995-96, HL Paper 105) which concluded that Community
membership of EUROCONTROL was undesirable, but explain why the
Government has now agreed to such membership in principle.
I have passed your letter to Lord Geddes, Chairman of Sub-Committee
B, which conducted the enquiry on which the Committee's report
was based. Although the Sub-Committee may be disappointed by the
outcome, I am sure they will be grateful to you for having kept
the Committee informed of developments.
29 October 1997