SINGLE EUROPEAN SKY (14964/02)
Letter from John Spellar, Minister of
State, Director of Transport to the Chairman
As you will recall, the House of Commons debated
the Single European Sky initiative on the floor of the House on
24 June 2002. In the intervening period, the negotiations on this
package have continued and there is a chance that my fellow transport
ministers and I will be able to secure political agreement at
the December Transport Council. I want to take this opportunity
of bringing you up to date with the progress that has been made.
Single Sky is an important project that the
UK has supported since its inception as we feel that it offers
the potential for genuine benefits to airspace users, air navigation
service providers and the travelling public. Securing these benefits
has not been easyand there is still some way to go before
there is an agreementbut there is a growing consensus among
Member States that we need to secure progress quickly and most
Member States have shown some flexibility in their approach to
Throughout the negotiations our main concern
has been the potential inclusion of the military authorities within
the scope of the Single Sky legislation. Indeed, when the House
of Commons debated this issue in June, it moved that "military
authorities should not be bound by these regulations". I
am pleased to say that the UK has found significant support for
our position among other Member States, and we are now confident
that the regulations will only apply to civil aviation. Such an
outcome would represent a considerable achievement given the Commission's
original idea of a first pillar option that included some regulation
of the military authorities.
Our position has always recognised that there
is a need to involve the military in Single Sky, and you will
recall that our favoured approach was through the use of an intergovernmental
treaty arrangement (IGA). My officials have worked with their
colleagues in the MOD and FCO to draw up a draft arrangement which
was presented to other Member States last month. Unfortunately,
our proposalwhilst the concept of an IGA was well receivedwas
seen as being too inflexible. We have accepted this view, and
we are now considering other ways of securing civil/military co-operation.
After careful consideration, we are particularly attracted to
the idea raised by several Member States of a statement in the
Council minutes to the effect that Member States will work towards
enhancing civil/military co-operation. In addition, as part of
our negotiation package, we are pushing for the exclusion of the
military from the scope of the legislation and for securing a
robust safeguard clause (approved by COLA) to protect our military
interests. Thus the civil aspects of Single Sky would be addressed
by the regulations, while the Council minute statement would cover
the commitment of Member States to secure enhanced co-operation
with the military. This approach is consistent with that agreed
during the debate on Single Sky last June, and appears likely
to command support from other Member States. With this package,
we believe we can achieve a consensus among Member States which
will resolve one of the key outstanding issues on the Single Sky
proposals and pave the way for progress at the December Council.
22 November 2002
Letter from the Chairman to John Spellar
Thank you for your letter dated 22 November
which Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 2 December.
You may recall that in our Report Reducing
air Traffic Delays: Civil and Military management of Airspace
in Europe (Fourteenth Report, Session 2000-01, HL Paper 79)
we focused on the same problem as that covered in your letter,
namely how to link the military to civilian regulation. Our preferred
option was via EUROCONTROL and the Single Sky Committee. We recognise,
however, that this was merely one possibility in a range of choices,
and that none would necessarily provide a neat, elegant solution
to the problem.
We note that the Government's favoured approach
through an inter-governmental treaty arrangement has failed to
attract sufficient support. This is a pity. It is not possible
for us to comment on the proposed compromise of a statement in
the Council minutes to the effect that Member States would work
towards enhancing civil/military co-operation, because we do not
know how Member States will respond to this admonition. Will it,
for example, help the French resolve their internal differences
between civil and military air transport management?
4 December 2002
Letter from John Spellar MP to the Chairman
Thank you for your letter of 4 December 2002
concerning the Single European Sky initiative. As you will know,
I was able to agree the Single Sky package at last month's Transport
Council. I am sure that you and your Committee will agree with
me that this was a good result for the United Kingdom, particularly
as we have campaigned for this for some time.
Turning to your point regarding civil/military
co-operation, our preferred option of an inter-governmental treaty
arrangement was not, as I indicated in my letter, judged by other
Member States as a suitable way forward. Instead, Transport Ministers
were able to agree a Council minute statement to the effect that
their military authorities will involve themselves in the work
of Single Sky and will ensure greater co-operation with their
It remains to be seen how other Member States
will react to carrying out the agreed Council minute statement.
All Member States, including France, were content to sign the
agreement, and we shall press for the agreement to be implemented
fully. Moreover, the European Commission and the Single Sky Committee
will, of course, monitor the progress on implementation.
In the meantime, I recently sent your Committee
a further EM on Single Sky (Number 14964/02, dated 6 January)
explaining the European Parliament's first reading amendments.
The European Parliament's second reading is scheduled to take
place in the spring, and I will, of course, provide you and your
Committee with details on the outcome in due course.
17 January 2003
Letter from the Chairman to John Spellar
Thank you for your letter dated 17 January 2003
which Sub-Committee B considered at its meeting on 27 January
Thank you very much for your gloss on the agreed
Council Minutes Statement. As you rightly say, it remains to be
seen how other Member States will react.
We have, of course, already dealt with your
Explanatory Memorandum 14964/04 and lifted the Scrutiny reserve
on it as you will have seen from my letter of 23 January 2003.
29 January 2003