Conservatives shun tainted Single European Sky plans

12-Mar-2014 @ 12:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Excellent proposals to make the Single European Sky initiative a reality have been badly thrown off course by the addition of extra proposals which add legal problems, create red tape and discriminate against Gibraltar, senior Conservative MEP Jacqueline Foster warned today.

The initiative was first launched in 2000 with a view to bringing air-traffic management and navigation services under one deregulated system across the whole of the European Union.

However, progress has been slow since 2000 as some countries have lacked the political will and practical commitment to fully implement the scheme.

In 2012, Mrs Foster, Conservative Transport Spokesman produced a key report highlighting the vital importance of speeding up implementation in order to create jobs, cut journey times, save fuel and reduce ticket costs.

She succeeded in re-introducing much-needed urgency to the process and the EU Commission responded with its own proposals to accelerate the implementation.

Since then, however, Conservatives have become increasingly concerned with extra proposals which have been pushed into the package by the politician given responsibility for steering it through the European Parliament, Marian-Jean Marinescu.

These include plans to merge the responsibilities of existing National Aviation and National Supervisory Authorities under a single National Aviation Authority (NAA). This would present legal complications in the case of the UK and some other Member States. In addition, the Performance Review Body which currently helps the Commission oversee the Single European Sky, would be given powers as an EU-wide economic regulator.

Most of all, however, Conservatives have been outraged by an additional Spanish-inspired clause added to the report by the Parliament's Transport Committee which excludes Gibraltar, which is part of the Single Aviation Area, entirely from the proposals.

Following the vote Mrs Foster said: “Regrettably we had to vote against this report due to the fact that the majority of the Parliament refused to recognise the sovereignty of Gibraltar Airport.

She added: "For us this report is now badly tainted. It should have been great news for aviation and for passengers, but along the way it has taken some unwelcome and sinister turns.

"First we get these additional and unnecessary proposals which are legally shaky and add hugely to the administrative burden. Then we have an outrageous and provocative move to exclude Gibraltar and we are not prepared to stand back and see the integrity of the original plans twisted out of recognition.

"The cost of this childish and pathetic behaviour risks stalling the full implementation of SES which would create more than 300,000 high-quality and highly-paid jobs, save 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, make air traffic more efficient and reduce costs for passengers."

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