EASA unifies aviation regulation across the European Union. EASA is responsible for determining airworthiness of new aircraft, handing out type certificates, issuing airworthiness directives, giving authorizations to foreign airlines that want to operate to and from the EU. The agency is based in Cologne, Germany.

EASA’s responsibilities have expanded over time, to the point that European nations now delegate most regulatory matters to the agency. That makes sense as it streamlines processes and makes everything more efficient. EASA also takes on these tasks for non-EU countries within the continent such as Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. It even works closely and provides oversight for countries beyond Europe too.

EASA plays an important role in aviation matters in a number of countries beyond the European Union and the European Free Trade Association. That’s especially the case in eastern Europe and central Asia where aviation infrastructure may be less developed and closer cooperation with Europe is being pursued. Authorities in these countries can take advantage of EASA resources and expertise.

EASA’s Pan-European Partners (PANEP) initiative is an extension of the EU’s extensive work in various matters, including many aspects of transportation, to its east. EU membership candidates in the Balkans – including Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia – are an important part of this. The idea is to integrate their practices with EASA’s and build competence so that eventual full integration into EASA goes as smoothly as possible. Turkey is also an important part of this program. Countries like Armenia and Georgia also participate.

EASA’s sphere extends well beyond the near east, however. Since 2017, for example, EASA also works closely with Singapore on aircraft certifications. Naturally the agency has working relationships with many other countries, from China to Australia and more.

With its departure from the EU, Britain has also left EASA. The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will take over many of the vital regulatory tasks previously handled by EASA.

Many European aviation industry figures would like to see change in the area of air traffic management across the bloc. Right now the individual European states manage air traffic. Although they cooperate via an organization known as EUROCONTROL, the current setup leads to a number of inefficiencies.

Advocates for a more unified approach point out that it could solve many problems at once. That includes environmental benefits, reduced delays, increased capacity and improved safety. The “Single European Sky” initiative is the European Commission’s answer to this – and naturally EASA is closely involved. The EU has put billions of euro into pursuing this goal. Europe has many important aviation projects ongoing, but this may be one of its most critical.

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