It was a perfect opportunity for the EU to fulfill its pledges to "listen and learn" from its EU's citizens and "keep delivering on citizens' rights": When over 2.500 pilots and cabin crew rallied for safe flight duty times across Europe under the motto ‘Walkout for safety' - and with over 100.000 signatures for a Safety Petition - the EU Institutions could have taken this as a signal from its citizens on how to "build the European Union of the future together"1. Instead, the EU's safety agency EASA rebuffed the EU-wide action simply as a "disinformation campaign", aiming to play with the fear of passengers.
However, the pilots' and cabin crews' safety concerns are not new. They have repeatedly warned that the newly proposed flight time limitation rules need to undergo substantial changes before they can be considered a ‘safe package'. With rallies and demonstrations on 22 January thousands of aircrews brought fresh attention to this particularly important issue. From Larnaca (Cyprus) to Keflavik International Airport (Iceland) thousands of pilots and cabin crew distributed flyers, flowers, badges and t-shirts to passengers and colleagues at airports. In Brussels, a delegation of pilots and cabin crew met with the cabinet of EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas to hand over a Safety Petition with more than 100.000 signatures.
The Petition was also handed to the Chair of the European Parliament Transport Committee, MEP Brian Simpson. Although the Parliament's formal role in the adoption process on flight time limitations is very limited, it is to be hoped that the elected representatives of Europe's citizens are closer to their citizens and that they will not simply ‘rubber stamp' the EASA proposal, as the EU Commission and many EU Member States intend to do. "It's about Europe. It's about YOU!" remains a good reminder that this is about the safety of each and every EU citizen on board of a European airplane!
*"It's about Europe. It's about YOU" is the slogan of the 2013 European Year of Citizens campaign, designated by the EU Commission
1 "We want to keep delivering on citizens' rights and this is why we are dedicating a full year to those at the heart of the European project - our citizens", stated Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU- Commissioner responsible for Justice and Citizenship. "The European Year of Citizens is an opportunity for us to listen and learn from you what you want and how we can build the European Union of the future together". Source: EU Commission Press Release: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-1253_en.htm