More official information here:
The proposed regulatory framework can be downloaded here (PDF, 41 pages):
While the US rules seem to be quite restrictive, complex and drone adverse the EU ruleset at least partially aims to balance better between conflicting interests (freedom for RC hobbyists vs aviation safety vs public privacy).
The ruleset acknowledges the economic importance of drones, their innovation potential, the fragmentation of the industry as well as the diversity how drones are used. At least the agency seems to be willing to not lump together all these things.
Some quotes from the document above:
"Drones need to be treated as new types of aircraft with proportionate rules based on the risk of each operation."
"Innovative and diverse: the drone industry is extremely innovative and the risk that regulations are superseded by new developments will be always present."
"Finally, it should be kept in mind that using drones to inspect buildings or power lines could also improve safety because the consequences of hitting the building or the power line are likely to be material only compared to a manned aircraft where injuries to persons are to be expected."
"This regulatory framework is based on the risk posed by drone operations. Another choice would have been the classic approach used today for manned aircraft."
"Even very small drones can quickly fly high enough, thus posing a severe risk to aviation safety. As mentioned in the Riga Declaration: ‘Drone accidents will happen’. The challenge is now to find the balance and means to ensure appropriate safety while not hampering the market considering that a zero risk approach is not practical."
"Even if certification and licensing conditions were kept as ‘light’ as possible, the traditional manned aviation approach is likely to produce a too heavy approach to drones, especially to the small-drone market. The level of rigour applied to safety management in manned aviation (involving strict controls of aircraft design, production and maintenance; pilots; operations with (in most cases) ex ante licensing and continuous monitoring) is disproportionate to the risk posed by many drone operations."
"Overburdening low-risk operations lead to a climate of indifference or to illegal operations adversely affecting safety."
"Models are normally manually controlled and don’t carry a GPS unit or similar on board; there must be a clear benefit to mandate future drone technology and there is definitely a limit towards simplest, low-risk operations where it is not proportionate to increase costs without benefit (e.g. to install a GPS on a tethered balloon)."
"It is not the intention to create a licence, but merely to develop learning objectives or an e-learning tool."
There are also some quite interesting technical proposals, like low tech registrations comparable to how SIM cards are registered, smartphone based solutions, on-the-fly generated no-fly zones which are published over an open web interface which must be queried by drones before flying, temporary dynamic geo fencing e.g. to "create a safe bubble around a rescue helicopter when landing at the accident site"...
Sooo, what do you think?