Aviation safety is a global concern, and the EU treats it as such. It promotes aviation safety worldwide. International cooperation on safety also play an important role in enhancing the competitiveness of the European aviation industry, notably by minimising the economic burden of redundant regulatory oversight.
Strengthening the EU's international role in aviation safety is very prominent in the 2015 'Aviation Strategy for Europe', and supports the EU’s ambitious external aviation policy.
Strengthening worldwide aviation safety oversight
European operators and passengers may be exposed to increased safety risks when operating or travelling to regions with less developed aviation infrastructure or deficient aviation safety regulatory frameworks. Reports from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) estimate that implementation of international safety standards in civil aviation was at around 63% worldwide in 2016.
The EU considers it the joint responsibility of the global aviation community to support States that have difficulties or are unable to fully establish sustainable safety oversight systems in compliance with international standards. Therefore, the EU is actively engaged in a number of technical assistance and cooperation initiatives aimed at promoting aviation safety globally and regionally, particularly in areas with high accident rates.
Global regulatory cooperation
International cooperation in aviation safety can help harmonise standards internationally, to the benefit of passengers and the aeronautical industry.
The EU is seeking to establish long-standing cooperative arrangements with its main aeronautical partners around the world. Bilateral aviation safety agreements have already been concluded with the United States of America, Canada, Brazil, China and Japan. These agreements provide a framework for cooperation between Civil Aviation Authorities that ensures the highest levels of civil aviation safety. Similarly, the EU is actively engaged in multilateral safety cooperation through its work within ICAO.
The pan-European dimension of aviation safety
In aviation relations with neighbouring countries, and especially with States with which the EU has established a privileged relationship, safety is a top priority. States that have concluded international agreements with the EU, such as the European Common Aviation Area agreement, accept to apply the Union’s aviation safety rules. They can also participate in the European safety system and in the work of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Participation in activities such as the Union’s Ramp Inspections Programmes (SAFA/SACA) is also possible. A total of 47 States participate in the SAFA Ramp Inspection Programme.