European Commission proposes strict rules to regulate civil drones


The European Commission has proposed new stringent standards to better regulate the operations of civil drones or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).

The new rules aim to allow the European industry to strengthen its position in international drone market, while ensuring that all necessary safeguards are in place.

Although the use of civil drones is increasing in European countries such as Sweden, France and the UK, the regulatory framework differs across the EU with several key safeguards remaining unaddressed.

European Commission vice-president and mobility and transport commissioner Siim Kallas said the technology for civil drones is maturing and there is potential for significant growth and job creation, with some estimating that in the next ten years it could be worth 10% of the aviation market.

"We have an opportunity now to make a single set of rules that everyone can work with, just like we do for larger aircraft."

"If ever there was a right time to do this, and to do this at a European level, it is now," Kallas said. "Because remotely piloted aircraft, almost by definition, are going to cross borders and the industry is still in its infancy.

"We have an opportunity now to make a single set of rules that everyone can work with, just like we do for larger aircraft."

The proposed standards will include strict EU-wide rules on safety authorisations; tough controls on privacy and data protection; controls to ensure security; a clear framework for liability and insurance; and streamlining R&D and supporting new industry.

In addition, the commission will conduct an in-depth impact assessment to examine the issues and determine the best options to address them.

The assessment may be followed by a legislative proposal, to be approved by Member States and the European Parliament.

Other measures may include support actions under current EU programmes such as SESAR, Horizon 2020 or COSME.