Following initial agreement of the concept in 1993, the Czech Republic and Hungary were among states which insisted that there should be a proper evaluation process for location of the CEATS centre, and they also suggested that a realistic timescale should be adopted.
The outcome of this study, however, was to put the whole CEATS concept on very unstable ground.
The so-called CEATS 1 and 2 proposal envisaged extending the existing Vienna centre to include an interim CEATS centre, with states wishing to join the project immediately doing so via this route: CEATS 1.
Hardly any states were interested in joining CEATS 1: few were facing the sort of capacity constraints that might make that option attractive, and there was concern that if the interim centre were based in Vienna it would, by default, be the preferred choice for the permanent centre.
Materna proposed that, in the absence of any agreement on location, the states should proceed with the re-sectorisation of CEATS airspace agreed at the outset, which would reduce the number of sectors from 32 to 22.
The report identified that the greatest savings would be to airspace users and not the CEATS states themselves, and it estimated that flight cost savings for aircraft operators would exceed 100 million ECU per year.
However, the cost benefit analysis goes on to say: "Although the CEATS centre represents a net cost to the states, when all the costs and benefits of all interested parties are considered, there is a high probability that the project will break-even (achieve a 7% return) within three years of the start of operations.
The report also points out that if the 2005 operational date for the CEATS centre is to be achieved, project planning should start no later than January 1998.
He is confident that, now that it is in the hands of the states themselves, the site evaluation process is as transparent as it can be, and suggests that a cohesive effort is underway that should help bind CEATS members together.
Materna is also anxious that the evaluation process should not be allowed to re-open discussion on the actual concept of CEATS or introduce any hitherto unidentified options, as happened with the Wilmer Cutler and Pickering report.
He pointed out that both Bulgaria and Romania have expressed an interest in joining CEATS some time in the future, and said that Poland would be a natural and desirable addition to the group in the longer term.