As the skies open again, and the ash slowly dissipates into the horizon, there is still plenty of hot air about as analysts and political commentators begin to pick through the remnants of the volcanic ash crisis and inevitably seek out a guilty party to blame.

Consumer compensation, Aviation operators aliments and a staunch defence from regulatory bodies have all been thrown into the cauldron. This hot-pot of conflict has raised some fascinating points. In regard to crises we as a society seem to over regulate in relation to personal safety, and under regulate with regard to issues that have a far more detrimental impact on society as a whole i.e Financial Regulation.

However there is a common theme in regard to both areas, a lackluster and lethargic response from the most enormous and influential supranational regulatory body in the world: The European Union.There has for a long period ,arguable since its inception, been economic harmony in the E.U., conversely political harmony has always been its Achilles heel.

The absence of a collaborative harmonious and swift response to various crises has continually highlighted the absence of both leadership at a European level and its inability to react promptly and effectively to real-time situations.

Achieving an effective crisis management strategy should not be solely obsessed with preventative and containment measures. Although preventative action in order to contain immediate danger is the first port of call. A more inclusive reactionary approach to crisis management including all the major political actors in real-time should be immediately enacted once containment of the crisis is achieved.

The closing of Europe’s skylines and the sluggish response reeked of ineffectiveness.

The European Presidency should have a played a much more proactive role in the handling of the crisis. An immediate meeting of the Council Meetings should have been called in order to give a prudent risk assessment, inform aviation operators of an approximation of the ban,clearly outline the economic consequences and provide information on any assistance to both passengers/airlines that may or may not be provided. Relaying the outcomes of the meeting to the various member states populations in one voice would have reinforced confidence and may have alleviated some passenger concerns.

“This is a European embarrassment and… a European mess.”- IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani

Unfortunately it took 5 days for a European response to a problem that had misplaced and stranded thousands, created an economic fallout greater than the immediate grounding of planes after 9/11 and once again shattered public confidence in the effectiveness of an E.U response to an E.U crisis.

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