The vision I have for the future of the European Aviation Safety Agency is clear. This is because the principles that are the foundation of the European Aviation Safety System – I emphasise the word ‘system’ – were already acknowledged by
the European legislator when it adopted the legal basis for this system, Regulation 1592/2002.
After three years of implementation, these principles have proved to be sound. They need not and should not be changed in the future. So what are they?
A SINGLE FRAMEWORK
Firstly, there must be a single clear framework for the regulation of civil aviation safety in the community. The European system is being built step by step. The starting point was airworthiness and the environmental compatibility of aeronautical
products with the necessary provisions for an extension to air operations and crew licensing.
The extension of this system to all aspects of aviation safety under a total system approach is technically consistent and logical. The agency is preparing for this.
In those domains where Regulation 1592/2002 applies, all national rules are superseded by this regulation and its implementing rules. There is no overlap of old and new rules. It is the agency’s objective to ensure that new rules do not disrupt or
create difficulties for the existing system. It is also its objective to be a light regulator where possible, and to avoid over-regulation and undue burden on regulated persons. The agency is currently working on general aviation with exactly this aim in
NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS IN CHARGE
The implementation of rules is primarily a national responsibility, using the national executive system. This principle ensures an important and permanent operational role for national authorities.
Within the EU, in strictly limited cases, where the legislator considers a centralised action to be more efficient, the agency is given an executive role. Type-certification is one example. In other areas, such as operations, flight-crew licensing,
airports or air traffic management (ATM), this is likely to involve very few cases, if any.
However, some cross-border activities could be overseen efficiently by a centralised body, especially when the national authority considers it does not have the necessary resources to do the job or when a single European certificate would replace
several national approvals. But as we always say, member states’ authorities and the agency are two pillars of the same system, and they are partners.
As the agency develops various types of rules, it is obliged to follow an open and transparent process allowing the involvement, without discrimination, of all stakeholders.
This rule-making process, called Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) is very similar to the FAA NPRM process. It allows us to reach a consensus in a preferred solution in a reasonable period of time for an efficient rulemaking process.
The EU system aims for a high and uniform level of civil aviation safety in the community, which should be extended beyond its current boundaries.
The European set of rules is very modern and attractive. If they wish, non-EU European states can be associated with the EU system through bilateral agreements under which they are assimilated to member states. This is already the case for Norway,
Iceland and, soon, Switzerland.
Furthermore, the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) has said that, in a few years, all its non-EASA members should be associated with the agency. This is the best way to satisfy those countries’ requests to be involved in the regulatory work of
Having recalled the basic principles on which the legislator has built the European system, I would like to say that the European Aviation Safety Agency is and will continue to be a safety regulator.
A safety regulator should not be involved in economic regulation or service provision. Regulators, whether economic or safety, should not be directly involved in either technological development or design activities in order to keep their independence
and be able to make technical judgments without preconceived ideas.
A POLITICAL ROLE?
Finally, the regulators have to assist the political decision-makers by providing them with the necessary elements to make the most appropriate choices. It is in the interests of political decision makers to have separate safety and economic
regulators to ensure that all aspects have been fairly evaluated.
This leads me to the future role of Eurocontrol. Having explained that safety regulation is only one element of the regulation of the whole aviation system, it would be wrong to say that changes in the field of ATM regulation mean transferring all
Eurocontrol activities to the agency.
The Single European Sky initiative is focusing essentially on increased economic efficiency, as have many Eurocontrol activities over the last decade. The role of the European Aviation Safety Agency is not to verify that air transport is efficient or
that a new concept may allow for more aircraft in the air. Its role is to ensure that any technical solutions, concepts, equipment, personnel or organisations involved in civil aviation are operating safely.
To ensure a uniform implementation of EU law at the national level, the European Commission should continue to give the agency the task of inspecting the member states in all aviation safety domains, as is already the case today for airworthiness.
Standardisation inspections have already proved to be a successful tool in increasing safety and providing a level playing field to industry.
We are facing the important challenge of establishing a second level of European administration without adding a further layer of bureaucracy.
Indeed, besides safety, which is and will always remain our highest priority, the rationale for a single
European safety regulator is increased competitiveness through the simplification of rules and streamlined procedures. I think this should also be our guiding principle in the future.