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Mobility and Transport
News article20 April 2023Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport4 min read

EU – India Aviation Summit: Opening speech by Commissioner Adina Vălean

Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished guests – Good morning, Namaste.


One must forever strive for excellence, or even perfection, in any task however small, and never be satisfied with second best”. Many of you will recognise those words. They were said by JRD Tata, founder of Tata Airlines, which went on to become Air India.

I am sure he would be proud of the excellence visible in Indian aviation today. Your dynamism is propelling India to become the third-largest aviation market worldwide.

I also see many similarities with our European aviation success story. 

Here in India, as in the European Union, liberalisation has been one of the main growth drivers. In the 1990s, the Indian government opened up the aviation industry to private players, allowing new airlines to enter the market, which had the effect of stimulating competition, raising quality of service, and transforming air travel from a luxury good to an affordable means of transport.

Today, aviation is an established driver of economic growth in Europe. It generates millions of jobs, it supports our thriving European trade and tourism industries, and is a motor for regional development and cohesion. 

Europe has created the world’s largest integrated aviation market – a market that serves 27 States and a population of more than 450 million. A market that transported over one billion passengers in 2019 – half of those domestically, within the EU, and the other half internationally. And, indeed, over the past 20 years, we have complemented our internal market with global outreach.

Of course, COVID hit us all badly, in particular international aviation. But growth is certainly back now. And while this is excellent news, it is also not without challenges: from increasingly congested airports and skies, to managing the environmental and climate impacts of this growth, as well as the safety challenges of integrating new types of air traffic into our skies with the emerging drone market.

Here too, I believe we have a lot in common! Which is why I am glad to have this opportunity to bring together so many of our respective industry experts and decision-makers in one room to discuss how to face up to these challenges – but also, how to turn these into opportunities.

For instance, decarbonising aviation is a challenge. But, it can also be an opportunity. The development of sustainable aviation fuels allows us to create a new fast-growing market for cutting-edge, environmentally friendly transport technologies, reducing aviation’s climate impact, creating new jobs and investments, and improving our energy and economic security. That is why the EU is taking steps to establish a legal framework that will stimulate the production and uptake of such fuels at home, while also looking to support partners in India and other world regions to benefit from this green transition and manufacture their own SAF – for instance via the ICAO’s ACT-SAF programme.

I mentioned drones also. Here too the opportunities are formidable: From goods’ delivery to providing emergency medical assistance; supporting search and rescue missions or monitoring our critical infrastructure: the use cases just keep growing. By adding drones into the transport mix, we will not only have less traffic congestion, but also fewer emissions, and all this with no expensive infrastructure requirements. This is why the EU has developed a comprehensive drones' strategy to ensure the safe roll-out of drone technologies – including larger passenger and cargo-carrying drones – into our airspace.

We do all this with the help of our EU Aviation Safety Agency, EASA, which is a global leader in aviation safety regulation; our SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking, which is pioneering ATM modernisation, as well as Eurocontrol, which plays a central role in coordinating and planning air traffic control for all of Europe. Each organisation is represented here today in New Delhi.

And just as I am certain that we will all benefit from our exchanges on all these topics over the next two days, I am equally convinced we would benefit even more from setting up a shared platform for regular dialogue and cooperation on the broad variety of aviation-related issues of mutual interest.

From commercial opportunities, to aviation safety and security, sustainability, air traffic management, or consumer protection. Our shared experiences, as well as our shared objectives, make us natural partners

We should have a forum where we can discuss the practical side of doing business, including compliance with different regulatory regimes, and build a common understanding, find solutions and cooperate on issues of common interest.

We already have a successful history of partnership and cooperation in many areas. I truly hope aviation will become one of our most successful partnerships.

The panel discussions today and tomorrow are a opportunity to exchange ideas, to dare to ask difficult questions, and to find answers to them together. This is the first step towards building a comprehensive, mutually beneficial, and rewarding partnership.


Thank you. 


Publication date
20 April 2023
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport