The network functions have been created by the Single European Sky II legislation with the strong support of stakeholders. They are aiming to:
- develop and create European Route Network Design;
- organise the Air Traffic Flow Management;
- coordinate radio frequencies within aviation frequency bands used by general air traffic;
- coordinate radar transponder codes.
The Network Functions Implementing Regulation (EU) No 2019/123 lays down the tasks to be performed by the Network Manager in relation to the functions listed above. The Network Manager cooperates closely with air navigation service providers, airports, airlines and the military across 43 states. Its objective is to support safer, more sustainable and efficient operation of the European Network; it also contributes to the deployment of SESAR.
Eurocontrol was appointed as the Network Manager for the Single European Sky via a Commission Decision on 7 July 2011 (C(2011) 4130 until the end for 2019 and was re-appointed again for the period 1 January 2020-31 December 2029 by Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2019/709.
The Network Management Board, which is an industry-led governance body made up of representatives of ANSPs, airspace users, airports and military, contributes to the smooth functioning of the Network Manager by defining priorities and monitoring progress. The Chairman of the NMB is currently Mr Simon Hocquard.
The Network Manager, which aims to play a vitally important role for the competitiveness of Europe's aviation industry, was a key actor for the operational network performance in the areas of capacity and flight efficiency over the period 2012-2014. The Network Manager has gone from being a concept on paper to a successful reality recognised by all stakeholders, bringing tangible daily performance benefits to the EU’s network and adjacent states. Its budget amounts to 2.6-2.8 % of the total en-route costs in Europe.
Thanks to constant interaction with operational stakeholders, the Network Manager responded to numerous expected and unexpected challenges. With regard to expected challenges, its direct contribution to capacity and delay savings was to reduce en-route delays by 10 % below the capacity plans declared by Member States; the target was met each year of the first Reference Period, with a 10.7 % contribution in 2012, 13.7 % in 2013 and 13.3 % in 2014. The Network Manager was also very close to meeting the two agreed targets related to the improvement of flight efficiency.
Coordination at network level limited the consequences of unexpected events such as a series of strikes in 2013 and 2014 (which equated to 13.6 % and 13.4 % respectively of total en-route delays) and significantly impacted on flight efficiency as aircraft were rerouted to avoid the affected area. In 2014, such coordination also limited the consequences of major disruptions in the European network resulting especially from the crises in Ukraine (e.g. Crimea and MH 17), Libya, Syria and Iraq.
Overall the Network Manager allowed the ATM network to perform better than planned in 2012 and 2013, while the average en-route delay was above the 0.5 minute target/flight in 2014 due to the above-mentioned crises situations. In 2014, which was also the year traffic returned to growth, delays would have been higher without the Network Manager's contributions.
Activities of the Network Manager are summarised in annual reports.