Unions to demonstrate against Commission's efforts to speed up European Single Sky
An umbrella group of air traffic controller unions has
called for its 14,000 members to strike on 10 October to protest against the
European Commission's push to force member states to make good on their
commitment to create a Single European Sky.
Member states missed a December 2012 deadline to combine the
European Union's 28 national airspaces into nine functional blocs, agreed in a 2004 directive.
In response, the Commission proposed in June to give the directive more teeth.
The new proposal would give more powers to Eurocontrol, the international
organisation that monitors European air-traffic control. The new rules would
set strict targets, and empower the Commission to act against member states
that do not co-operate.
The new proposal was followed by a limit strike by some air
traffic controllers on 13 June. The strike mostly affected France, where 40% of
the country's flights were cancelled.
The strike on 10 October would be far larger. It is the
first time in ten years that the Air Traffic Controllers European Unions
Coordination (ATCEUC), an umbrella organisation of European unions, has called
on all of its members across the 28 member states to strike.
“The real objectives [of the Commission proposal] are clear:
to liberalise the provision of Air Navigation Services, to deregulate the
working conditions of thousands of staff in ATM and eventually to put this
essential public interest service in the hands of a few wealthy individuals and
companies that have been lobbying to this effect,” ATCEUC said in a statement
But the Commission argues that the current EU system is
wasteful in time and money, inducing airlines to follow illogical routes around
countries to avoid incurring cumulative national fees. The Commission estimates
that, if the situation in Europe persists, congestion costs will increase by
around 50% by 2050. Air passenger and airline associations have
supported the proposal. They said the lack of progress is costing the EU €14
million a day and is causing unnecessary carbon emissions.
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