EU has the declared policy objectives of
- Improving transport connections between all areas EU
- Developing new links and removing bottlenecks
- Allow access to the European single market more competitively and therefore efficiently
However after the 2004 Charleroi state aid case – EC guidelines on how state aid and competition rules apply were intended to be revised. In the meantime the EC required the popular (in the UK) Route Development Fund approach to become compliant with revised guidelines.
Amongst other matters only routes operated by EU carriers were eligible for funding unless there was an existing Open Skies agreement in place with the EU. Funding for routes from airports with more than 5m annual passengers could be considered only in exceptional cases. The current guidelines are silent on connectivity outwith the EU. All this is being reviewed as we write (early 2013).
In general terms and with regard to remote and peripheral region aviation:-
As a minority voice in their own country, the aviation community in such remote regions needs help if their issues and concerns are to be heard and dealt with effectively by decision-making fora (government and regulatory) that are dominated by more populous and urbanised regions and the larger airports and airline operators. These include:
– The need to avoid ‘one-size-fits-all’ rule making driven by urban orientated and congestion dominated thinking.
– Safety cases and practice that ignore the particular challenges facing remote and peripheral regions.
– Where the costs of security, customs, immigration and policing should lie.
– Competition and ownership issues.
Government and EU fiscal and strategic policy on:
– Market interventions and public sector funding support
– Economic development
– Land use planning
– Environment and sustainability