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Mobility and Transport
News article22 September 2016Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport

ICAO World Aviation Forum: speech by Henrik Hololei, Director General for Mobility and Transport

ICAO World Aviation Forum – 23-25 November 2015

Opening Session entitled "How Safe and Reliable Air Transport Delivers Important Economic Benefits to States"

High-level Round Table on the "Importance of 'No Country Left Behind (NCLB)' goals and to Socio-economic development"

Henrik Hololei, Director General for Mobility and Transport

23 November, 2015

President Aliu, Secretary General Liu, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour and indeed a pleasure to be here with you, to take part in this round table discussion and to be able to engage with other forum participants.

As some of you here will know, being here today constitutes my 'first' ICAO appearance since I took on the position as Director General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission in October and I am really delighted to be here again.

Aviation is of strategic importance for Europe and for all of us, a key enabler of economic development, jobs, growth and connectivity. The success not just of the aviation sector but of our economy as a whole is closely linked to how – and how well – we are connected with the rest of the world and vice versa:

It is vital for business, for people-to-people contacts, for tourism, for logistics. And this list might be even much longer!

For the European Union aviation contributes €110 billion to its GDP, and the approximately 30.000 flights through Europe on a daily basis represents 26% of the world market.

In one word, aviation matters, which is why we must tackle the challenges in front of us.

Just 2 weeks from today EU is about to adopt renewed Aviation Strategy to deal with some of these challenges.

The first challenge is how to support continuous growth in the EU internal aviation market; maintaining high level of safety; addressing the capacity constraints and ensuring interoperability.

From the start of the opening of European aviation market in the early 1990s, we have seen continuous high growth, particularly of traffic inside Europe. It shows that a combination of open markets – without any restrictions on traffic rights or on ownership – together with high standards in safety, security and the environment can deliver growth, even in a mature market like the European one. This strategy has served us well until now.

To support this we must address (internally) issues related to capacity constraints and congestion, both in the air and on the ground. And to fully utilise the new business models, the digital and innovative solutions, like e.g. drones.

The second challenge is rapid change internationally, particularly in intercontinental traffic, where things are changing rapidly and permanently. There are new players, and new business models. How do we enhance the global competitiveness of the industry and work towards a set of common principles for doing business and competing? We need to embrace those changes, and offer to our competitors a partnership similar to what we have done inside Europe: to open up the market on the basis of a common set of standards on doing business. And of course also common standards, ICAO standards, on safety (safety is always the number one concern and priority), security and the environment.

In short, what we propose is an outward looking and ambitious external aviation policy. We need to be actively present where the growth is generated and in doing so enhance connectivity for our economy as a whole.

That brings me to the wider question of our international engagement.

I strongly believe we must involve the global aviation community in building a strategy that will allow us to address together the challenges we all face, be it in safety, security, competitiveness and connectivity.

Cooperation is key. Events like this one demonstrate that there is a growing realization and ambition to explore how international partnerships can contribute to this process.

Further integration, international standards, mutual recognition … these are important factors to the success of this process. And when developing improvements to our own safety system, the EU will also look to strengthen its role and responsibilities as a partner in the global aviation community. Notably through our bilateral and multilateral outreach, in support of ICAO, as well as through our technical cooperation initiatives aimed at intensifying our relationship with partner countries.

President Aliu is right to stress that effective implementation of existing standards is key for the future success of the sector. This is also ICAO's core business in delivering the 'No Country Left Behind' initiative. The EU is here to work intensively together with all of you.

The significance of our commitment to such activities at ICAO level are not merely visible through financial contributions and expert advice but also through our contribution to a number of technical assistance programmes (indicatively, an annual contribution of 10 to 15 million dollars at the EU level. That is a considerable increase compared to a few years ago. And of course several EU Member States have their own bilateral programmes as well.)

But it is not just about numbers but also about the quality of cooperation: we try to ensure that technical cooperation is demand-driven and based on dialogue as well as true stakeholder involvement on both sides.

Let me here bring just one example of such a technical assistance project, called 'Capacity building for CO2 mitigation from international aviation',

This is a project, in cooperation with ICAO that was started in January 2014 lasting 4 years, with an overall budget of € 6.5 Mn. For the time being 14 beneficiary states from the African and Caribbean ICAO regions are associated with this project. It is a good example of a project capturing the spirit of this event.

There are other similar projects ongoing in the field of safety as well as security. The progress and success of these projects will also depend on the people on the ground and the continued strong political (and administrative) commitment at the top. Industry also needs to play its role.

Ladies and gentlemen, Europe has been, is, and will be at your side in efforts to ensure that no country is left behind. ICAO provides a framework and I look forward to working with ICAO and you in taking these efforts forward.


Publication date
22 September 2016
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport