High-level civil and military representatives from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland signed a Declaration of Intent to jointly build up a common functional block of airspace, called FABEC (Functional Airspace Block Europe Central).
In parallel, the civil air navigation services designated in these countries signed an agreement which will be the basis for first and immediate steps of cooperation. The goal of this common initiative is to set up an airspace among the six States where air traffic management is organised irrespective of national borders. This will increase the performance of air traffic in the heart of Europe in terms of safety, environmental impact, capacity, cost effectiveness, shorter routes and military mission effectiveness. The achievements of FABEC, which handles today about 55 per cent of all flights in Europe and covers the most complex traffic areas between the busiest airports, will be a major step in the effective implementation of the Single European Sky. The positive impact of a strong cooperation was proven in a feasibility study report delivered in summer 2008. More than 230 experts share the opinion that the expected 50 per cent growth in air traffic volume by 2018 can be handled at the same high level of safety. In addition, the experts concluded that, thanks to the FABEC initiative, delays per flight will be kept low, and emissions per flight will be reduced. This will be enabled by several activities proposed (redesign of airspace, common operational concept etc.) by the experts. In addition, a cost-benefit analysis shows a potential benefit of €7,000 million for the airspace user by 2025. A first major step proposed is the redesign of internal FABEC cross-border areas scheduled to be implemented by the end of 2011. Taking into account the positive results of the feasibility study report, the signatories intend to jointly finalise an international agreement as the main institutional framework for the construction and implementation of FABEC. This agreement will be ready to be signed in 2010 at the latest, and enter into force after its ratification. Meanwhile, the implementation phase has been launched among the air navigation service providers and the State authorities, starting with the further development of the operational and technical components leading to implementation. As a consequence of FABEC, cooperation is likely to bring forth alliances between the national air navigation service providers, integrating functions and possibly services. This could result in the creation of common entities if it is shown to be the most efficient way. This will be studied in the implementation phase. The restructuring of European airspace into functional blocks of airspace, to which the Member States of the European Community have committed themselves, is one of the most prominent results of the Single European Sky regulations adopted in March 2004. Although Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, it is participating in the SES project.