The European Commission (EC) will present plans to a meeting of European Union (EU) transport ministers this month aimed at creating a European aviation-safety authority. The new agency could be operational as early as 2000, says a well-placed EC official.

Detailed work on pulling together recommendations on the role and powers of the new authority has been under way in earnest since September, after transport ministers gave the go-ahead in June for the work. The work to date has focused primarily on the issues of funding, the authority's relationship to member states and its internal structure.

Although major areas of disagreement remain to be resolved, the EU official says it is hoped that this month's meeting will agree the broad shape of the European aviation-safety authority, allowing it to take over the role of the existing Joint Aviation Authorities as early as 2000, if it is decided that the new body can operate as an arm of the European Commission.

"If it is decided that the authority is to be set up by treaty, then it could be operational by 2002," says the Brussels-based official.

Source: Flight International