Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as Drones are being increasingly used in the European Union. The economic sector is growing and brings new jobs, but under a fragmented European regulatory framework.

Basic national safety rules apply, but the rules differ across the EU and a number of key safeguards are not addressed in a coherent way.

That’s why, following a request from the European Commission, EU Member States and industry stakeholders, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) started to work on a proposal for an EU wide small drones regulatory framework.

The framework establishes three categories with different safety requirements, proportionate to the risk:

  • “open” (low risk) is an Unmanned Aircraft (UA) operation category that, considering the risks involved, does not require a prior authorization by a national competent authority before the operation takes place;

  • “specific” (medium risk) is an UA operation category that, considering the risks involved, requires an authorization by a national competent authority before the operation takes place and takes into account the mitigation measures identified in an operational risk assessment, except for certain standard scenarios where a declaration by the operator is sufficient;

  • “certified” (high risk) is a UA operation category that, considering the risks involved, requires the certification of the Unmanned Arial System (UAS), a licensed remote pilot and an operator approved by a national competent authority, to ensure an appropriate level of safety.


  • Following the publication of a Technical Opinion in December 2015, a ‘Prototype’ regulation was drafted for the ‘open’ and ‘specific’ categories.

  • In August 2016, the ‘Prototype’ regulation was published.

  • A considerable number of comments has been received leading to the publication of a document on 5 May 2017 called a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA).

The NPA has taken into consideration the developments in the international arena e.g. work done in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); in the Joint Authorities for the Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems (JARUS) and of course in the USA (Federal Aviation Administration- FAA).

The proposed rules on small drones:

You can find a summary of the proposal in the table below:

unmanned aerial vehicles

Next Steps: Have your say until 12 August 2017

All interested parties are welcome to comment this proposal from 12 May until 12 August 2017: you can submit your comments here.

As agricultural drone software provider, we at AgroHelper believe that industry specialists shall have their say — please share this article and let the drone operator’s voice be heard by legislators!

Mihail Marinov

Founding member & Head of Business Development at AgroHelper, Mihail Marinov is an agricultural finance specialist with 5+ years of experience in the field and advocate of precision agriculture technologies that help farmers to increase the output while decreasing the input per area unit.