Aviation stakeholders from all corners of the industry agree that Barrot’s tenure as Transport Commissioner was notable for the inclusive nature of his administration, working closely with key industry stakeholders and seeking to advance the common goal of European mobility, with a spirit of genuine partnership. This was amply demonstrated when, in November 2006, Barrot established a High Level Group, representing different strands of the aviation community, to report on the future European aviation regulatory framework. The appointment of Tajani as his successor must be confirmed by the European Parliament, which is due to hold its question-time with him on 16 June, with the final decision currently scheduled to take place on 18 June.
It should be mentioned that Tajani is already very familiar with the European institutions, as he has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) since 1994. He is currently Vice President of the EPP (European People’s Party – the largest political party in the European Parliament) group and is a member of various parliamentary committees, including the foreign affairs committee and the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs.
He faces an extremely busy few months ahead – given the advanced nature of so many of the European Union’s ambitions for the transport portfolio. The emerging effects of the rising price of oil, coupled with increasing analysis of environmental impact of all modes of transport mean that he will need to hit the ground running.
One of his first tasks as Commissioner will be to oversee the European Commission’s stance on the current attempts to rescue Alitalia, including their formal position on the Italian state’s loan of €300 million to the airline.
In broader aviation terms, Tajani’s arrival is also set to coincide with a very big event: the second Single European Sky package (SES II) is currently scheduled to be adopted at the end of June, with the aim of legally and politically relaunching the plan to build the Single European Sky by 2012.
It is widely acknowledged that the aviation system capacity crunch must be addressed through technological innovation from the SESAR programme coupled with measures to improve airport capacity. ACI EUROPE continues to call for an integrated approach to creating capacity in the air and on the ground. Its efforts are yielding results – SES II is expected to include a specific reference to airport capacity and should coincide with the creation of an Airport Capacity Observatory at EU level – this is crucial to the mapping of the airport capacity crunch, as at present, there is no monitoring of airport capacity in the European aviation network. The Observatory will have a key role to play, notably in terms of identifying the potential of regional airports, which can play an important role in solving the capacity crunch.
In the sphere of aviation security, Tajani will also oversee the implementation of the new framework regulation 300/2008 – which should ultimately lead to some significant changes to the current security regime on liquids and gels.