Saturday, July 07, 2007

A good idea turned bad

A group of EU experts, we are told by Associated Press (via IHT) and others, are urging the European Union to speed up efforts to create a unified airspace over Europe. Such a plan is needed, they say, to cut air travel costs, boost safety and improve the environmental efficiency of air traffic over the continent.

This is the "Single European Sky" concept, the name dreamed up by the Commission in pursuit of its grandiose ambitions of European political integration.

The experts in question, given the title "High Level Group", constitute an advisory body set up last year by the EU commission. Quite rightly, they point out that Europe is still broken up into small slices of airspace controlled by national governments, which has contributed to making air travel over Europe 70 percent less cost efficient than in the United States.

But then we get the propaganda. History, it seems, starts with the Single European Sky, which was introduced in 2004 by the commission "to ensure greater aviation efficiency and improved environmental performance by eliminating the need for airliners to zigzag through 27 different national air spaces."

Predictably, the "experts" then recommend, amongst other things, giving greater powers to Eurocontrol, Europe's air navigation agency and transforming the nascent European Aviation Safety Agency into a general regulatory body along the lines of the US Federal Aviation Administration – effectively another power grab by the European Union.

Therein lies part of the problem. Efforts to unify airspace under single control actually go way back. Eurocontrol was set up in 1960 as an intergovernmental organisation, with the UK as one of its original members. It has since grown to embrace not 27 but 37 members, covering not the political entity of the European Union but most of geographical Europe.

But, as is so often the case, the EU is moving in to take "ownership", trying to turn Eurocontrol into a fully-fledged institution of the EU, exercising its malign control over every aspect of its operations – then claiming it as a "success" of its own, all part of the never-ending flow of propaganda to justify its own existence.

Thus, what started off with sovereign nation states freely cooperating for the common good becomes a political project where, in order to achieve technical progress, the member nations are forced to buy into the dream of European political integration.

This is very much how the EU operates, hijacking schemes that have been around for decades (sometimes centuries) and applying its own "brand" to them, harnessing them to the greater glory of the "project". But, far from aiding cooperation between nations, the leaden hand of the European bureaucracy slows down efforts, magnifies the costs and increases the complications.

What started off as a good idea, therefore, becomes a bureaucratic nightmare. That is the true contribution of the European Union: taking good ideas and turning them into bad ones.

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