Jacek P. Krawczyk, EESC

SESAR as a case study for effective, ambitious, pan-european horizontal projects

2016 marks the completion of the first phase of SESAR research and innovation (SESAR 1) and the delivery of technological and operational solutions ready for deployment. In this article, Jacek P. Krawczyk, President of the Employers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee, EESC rapporteur for aviation, shares his thoughts on the achievements of the SESAR JU partnership.

SESAR means much more than just new technologies. As a European Economic and Social Committee rapporteur dealing with aviation dossiers for over a decade, I have had the privilege of witnessing how the project was arrived at, how it took shape in the early stages and how it has flourished. However, there is more than one reason why I would deem it a success.

SESAR is one of the most successful private-public partnerships. It proves that we can mobilise significant private and public assets at European level to realise pan-European projects. SESAR is de facto a global project; even though it provides a technical pillar for SES (a European project), its development supports global integration of aviation (through cooperation with the NextGen in the US).

I am extremely satisfied with the philosophy that SESAR managers applied to cooperation with external partners. With major stakeholders such as the European Commission, the Parliament on the political side and large, well-known producers on the business side, SESAR still manages to address cooperation with smaller players; many innovative SMEs had the opportunity to get involved. Personally, I had a chance to see how it works in practice. For years, I have been trying to create a climate conducive to Polish companies joining SESAR. I was impressed by the reaction of SESAR staff. They not only responded positively but managed to visit the country swiftly and organise a number of meetings both in the capital, Warsaw and in Rzeszów, where aviation industry concentrates (Poland's Aviation Valley).

This proves that for SESAR it doesn't matter how large you are; what matters is a positive input and creativity. SESAR promotes and supports research and development among SMEs, and effectively facilitates relationships between business and academics as well as between large players and SMEs.

In the future, SESAR should be used as a case study for effective, ambitious pan-European, horizontal projects, with a powerful multiplier effect for further projects. This is exactly what the European Commission wants to achieve with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), commonly known as the Juncker plan.

While working on the opinion on SES II+ with Marian-Jean Marinescu, the EP rapporteur for that issue, we both emphasised that we need not only integration of technology but also legal integration, integration of standards, procedures and ATM governance as well as political courage both at European level and in relations between the European Commission and Member States. SESAR has already proved that it is ideally fit for purpose not only for technologic integration but also as a "facilitator" of integration in other areas.

Certainly, SESAR is an ongoing project and there are still many challenges ahead. For the future, I hope that everyone involved in this great undertaking will remain at least as vigorous in making things happen and as courageous in adopting innovative approaches as they are at present.