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Social sustainability for the next legislature!

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When you hear "sustainability," what pops into your mind? Solar panels, ocean wind farms, and electric vehicles, right? But that's just the environmental slice of the pie. To truly hit our ambitious transformation goals, we need to factor in economic and social dimensions too.

On April 9, the Belgian Presidency of the Council organised the "Aviation Conference: Europe's Flight Plan to a Sustainable Future," with ECA playing an active role. 

Elevated Aircrew Social Standards: A Critical Imperative

For the first time, high-profile speakers, including Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister, highlighted the critical need for high social standards for aircrew and the crucial link between well-being and safety. During the economic panel, it became clear that social issues are tightly interwoven with competitiveness and essential for maintaining a level playing field in Europe and globally. 

Regulatory Revisions: Addressing Oversights

The social panel featured participants like Patrick Arpino (ECA Board Director, SNPL), Jan Drahokoupil (ELA), Sabine Trier (ETF), Yves Jorens (Ghent University), Herman Carpentier (ENAA), and Ana Vieira de Mata (Portuguese CAA). There were several key messages that resonated through the event, such as the urgent need for a revision of the Air Services Regulation (Reg. 1008/2008). This regulation should have been revised already in 2018. But after multiple evaluations, consultations & assessments, the EU Commission buried the proposal.  

Regulation 1008/2008 has played a very important role in liberalising aviation in Europe. However, it ‘forgot’ to address the social consequences. As a result, today many pilots are flying with bogus self-employment and atypical contracts without access to social security and basic labour protection. The EU is today a social ‘no-law area’ for aviation workers.  

Achieving Socially Sustainable Aviation

The participants also agreed that to achieve socially sustainable aviation, Europe first needs to close the legal loopholes in posting rules and temporary work agencies and define better operational bases. 

Along with that, the participants believe in the power of cooperation between civil aviation and labor authorities for better info sharing and efficient airport inspections. This, in addition to strengthening the mandate of the European Labour Authority, could be critical for achieving a more sustainable aviation. 

The conference's conclusions were integrated into the Belgian Presidency's recommendations for the next Commission. Check them out here