The volcanic ash cloud: Lessons for the future
EU transport ministers meeting at an extraordinary Council session on 4 May in Brussels unanimously supported the provision of more coordinated European solutions in exceptional situations such as the volcanic ash crisis and its repercussions.
Ministers agreed on the need to develop, by their next meeting in June, a new European methodology for safety risk assessment and risk management to serve as an objective basis to make informed decisions on airspace closure and reopening, in case of ash clouds or other potential threats. "For those in responsible positions in Europe, passenger safety is always the number one priority," José Blanco López, Spain's Minister of Public Works and President of the Transport Council, said at the press conference.
Key elements of the Single European Sky package, originally due to enter into force in 2012, are to be fast-tracked. The initiative will set up a single European system for air traffic and organise Europe's airspace by traffic flows rather than national borders. A European Network Manager, a single body to coordinate the management of European skies, should be appointed by the end of 2010.
Ministers also stressed the need for a more interlinked European transport system. They backed the idea of European mobility plans, which, in the event of a sudden transport crisis, would make it possible to switch quickly from one transport mode to another.
Webcast of press conference
The Single European Sky website (Eurocontrol)