Further delays in the establishment of the proposed European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) seem inevitable following an intervention by the new Transport Commissioner Loyola De Palacio. She now wants the EASA to be established as part of the European Commission (EC), reversing the previous compromise by which it would have be set up as an international organisation based on a treaty between members of the European Union (EU) and outside nations.

The EASA is designed to supersede the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), the 27-member club of national civil aviation authorities, based in Amsterdam, which issues a wide range of aviation directives. However, while its directives are not legally binding for members, the EASA's could be mandatory.

Before the mass resignation of the EC commissioners last March, EU transport ministers had given Brussels a mandate to negotiate the EASA convention and an initial draft had been prepared. Then it had been hoped that the body could be functional by 2001 or 2002.

Brussels officials say De Palacio believes that a treaty-based multinational organisation would be too cumbersome compared with an EC body. It had taken years of detailed negotiations to reach agreement on the initial EASA project and this latest change makes more delays look certain.

Source: Airline Business