The need for action to rectify European air traffic services (ATS) inefficiency has been highlighted by European Commission (EC) transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio. She has issued a communication just before Europe's transport ministers gather for their biennial policymaking meeting in Brussels on 9 December. A "high level working party" should be formed to put forward solutions within six months, de Palacio recommends.

De Palacio has made it clear that she favours progress toward a single air traffic management (ATM) authority for Europe, in which national borders are irrelevant to European ATM policymaking. Such a policy would be in line with the demands of airline groups such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Association of European Airlines (AEA). But the AEA says that "setting up a working group is not what we call action".

The commissioner says that she would like to see Eurocontrol's non-mandatory policies made into EC directives. The EC's power over European Union (EU) governments in this sector, however, is limited to the competition aspects of ATS provision, says de Palacio. If ATS provision is not compatible with EU competition rules on the freedom to provide services within the single market, de Palacio says, the EC "will go to court to rectify any infringement".

• IATA director-general Pierre Jeanniot is calling on Europe's transport ministers to rectify the chronic undercapacity in European air traffic systems.

IATA's five-point action plan for the ministers includes redesigning airspace to increase capacity; increasing capacity through better planning; promoting European Commission membership of Eurocontrol; separating air traffic services (ATS) regulation from its provision; and liberalising the provision of ATS.

Source: Flight International