Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2002-09-03-Speech-2-010"

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". Mr President, Commissioner, Council representatives, ladies and gentlemen, the Commission's proposal for a regulation is a response to the report by the High Level Group on the Single European Sky. It is aimed, as we have been aware for some time, at turning the sky over the European Union, by 31 December 2004 at the latest, into an integrated airspace governed by the same principles and rules. We are also quite familiar with the priorities and principal objectives of this important regulation: firstly, to ensure better use of airspace, which means bringing down the costs, improving management with a view to reducing delays and increasing the system’s capacity, and, in particular, to significantly improving the level of safety, which is our top priority. We are also aware that it is not enough to declare that these are our priorities, that this is a time to take decisions: the first decision which Parliament and the European institutions are called upon to take concerns precisely the handing over of a large chunk of sovereignty, and this decision requires sensitivity and determination. There are just a few points included in our report that I would like to focus on: these, in our opinion, are the most salient points of the regulation. I would start by mentioning that a Single Sky is being achieved thanks to the unambiguous support of the European Parliament, which it had already declared in a resolution in July 2000, and thanks to the support of the governments of all the countries. The Commissioner cited – and I will mention it again – the recent agreement between the United Kingdom and Spain concerning the inclusion in the legislative act on the Single European Sky of the so-called ‘Gibraltar clause’ As I said, the regulation contains points of crucial importance. The first was mentioned by the Commissioner and concerns cooperation with Eurocontrol. This cooperation is essential. It was called for by the High Level Group and should prevent, in particular, the duplication of tasks. Reciprocal cooperation is important even though the Community is going to sign and accede to the Eurocontrol Convention in a month’s time. In our opinion, the amendments we have tabled in this respect will be superfluous after the Convention is signed. We do, however, feel that it is useful to emphasise it, particularly after the long wait we have had before our accession to Eurocontrol and the ratification of the Convention by the Member States. Furthermore, we feel that a matter of crucial importance is cooperation between civil and military authorities. This subject is particularly delicate as it could touch on various customary practices and prerogatives which unquestionably fall within the scope of the Member States’ sovereign powers. Our report and the Commission’s regulation follow two lines: we call for very close cooperation between civil and military air navigation service providers and we consider that military authorities should be represented on the Single Sky Committee. Although no specific provision is made for this in the text, we call for one of the two seats available for each State on this committee, which will be set up and assigned the task of political and technical control of the Single Sky, to be given to a representative of the military authorities, in order to achieve greater sharing of responsibility and a higher level of cooperation between civil and military authorities. Thirdly, penalties. The question of enforcing respect for the Single Sky rules through effective, proportionate, dissuasive penalties, as Parliament had already requested, is a sensitive issue. In our opinion, it is essential that we do this to ensure that the Single Sky becomes more than just a list of good intentions and has genuine legal certainty for all the countries of the European Union. The last important point is that the gradual opening-up of the market, and therefore of competition, will take place within specific constraints. We must remember that air traffic control constitutes a service of general interest, as has already been established by the Judgment of the Court of Justice, and, in this respect, we call upon the Commission to emphasise especially the economic and social impact as regards employment. Amendment No 36, which we are retabling, provides for the creation of a Sectoral Dialogue Committee on all measures with social implications taken to implement this regulation. In this sense, we feel that it is an essential point. I will conclude, Mr President, by expressing informed optimism regarding the results achieved in recent years. With the Single Sky, we are, at last, in a position to remove the borders in the sky as well as on the ground, and we are certainly taking a step towards fuller, more tangible European citizenship."@en1

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