The outgoing head of the European Commission's air traffic management (ATM) unit, Ben van Houtte, has called for "closer strategic alignment" between Eurocontrol and the Commission as the two bodies strive to overcome continuing problems with implementing the Single European Sky (SES).

"It is no secret that the development of relations with Eurocontrol has been one of the main challenges of the SES initiative," he told the civil air navigation services organisation newsletter Update Europe. Van Houtte was one of the principal architects of the SES regulations, which in 2004 laid the groundwork for the planned integration of the European ATM system. "We should strive for a meeting of minds as to the overall objectives of ATM policy in Europe," he added.

But progress has been slow, particularly on solving the dual problems of fragmentation of the system and inadequate civil/military co-ordination. Van Houtte also pointed to the need for better co-operation between national air navigation service providers (ANSP). But he added that if the EC's planned major review of the SES in 2008 revealed that the "bottom-up" approach to improving ANSP co-operation had not worked, "we will have to think about better processes to rationalise service provision".

Eurocontrol director-general Victor Aguardo applauds co-operation between the agency and the EC, particularly on the SESAR initiative to reduce fragmentation. "It wasn't obvious several years ago that we would work so well together," he says. "We have co-operated successfully on the SES and on research and development. There are 20 work packages implementing rules or studies either finished or in progress."

Source: Flight International