Eurocrats audit of SESAR may have great impact on SES

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Auditors to probe Europe’s SESAR programme

Similar to US OIG audits of NextGen

SESAR audit by ECA more delicate

Involves sovereign rights staying home or moving to Brussels


The auditors of the Inspector General have spent so much time examining NextGen that they probably have permanent apartments in Cambridge, MA near the Volpe Center which houses the NG development office.

Perhaps out of admiration and/or imitation, the European Court of Auditors(ECA) announced an audit of the deployment of SESAR, the European equivalent/competitor to NextGen. The scope of the ECA review is whether SESAR will support the EU goal of a Single European Sky (SES) initiative. The Eurocrats (a term of art created on the Continent, witness the cover graphic found in a European publication) will require greater diplomatic skills than that needed for the OIG NextGen studies; for SES is an effort to convince sovereigns to cede their airspace to EUROCONTROL

As stated tactfully in the article, “[t]he aim of SES is to improve the performance of European air traffic management by moving responsibility in a number of areas from intergovernmental practice to an EU framework. The initiative has gradually established a set of EU-wide rules, coupled with SESAR and backed by financial incentives.’


“Air transport is a crucial component of the EU’s single market. However, air traffic management in Europe has been provided in a 
technologically fragmented environment. This has resulted in higher costs and delays as well as negative impacts on the environment,” 
said George Pufan, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the audit.

“The auditors will review the need and design of EU intervention in the deployment phase of SESAR, the management of EU funding 
allocated to it and the extent to which performance gains are actually being delivered. They will visit EU-funded projects in Germany, 
Greece, France, Lithuania and Poland.”

SES, SESAR and EUROCONTROL are all important, if not ambitious, programs to unify the Continent (except UK). Consolidating the management of all of these heretofore independent national airspaces means the loss of power in the Member countries and growth of influence in Brussels. In the past, each country’s government were involved in politically significant decisions like– which computer should be bought, what the controllers would be paid,  what charges should be assessed on flights over their countries, where flight patterns would be drawn, what noise levels are acceptable, etc. On the other hand, by centralizing decisions within the EA, greater efficiencies may be more attainable with increased environmental benefits, making the EU more economically competitive, producing greater returns on the infrastructure investments and improving safety, The ECA audit will affect where these judgments are made– all in Brussels or back in their respective capitals.

The ECA auditors, typically drawn from the home states, can have great impact on this accession of powers, if (a) they find that SESAR will not likely be able to support the SES or (b) their judgment is positive.

Some might hope that the ECA auditor is not named Anthony and would conclude:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, give me your attention. I have come here to bury SESAR, not to praise him.


 Adapted from Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare. Occurring in Act III, scene II



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