For many years, the European Commission has been participating in prominent events of ICAO as an international observer. In order to achieve the objectives within the Single European Sky Initiative, this participation has increased over time and closer relations have also been established with the ICAO Regional Office in Paris. Since the end of 2005 the European Commission has had a permanent representative at the ICAO in Montreal.
The ICAO framework for Air Traffic Management (ATM) is the Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP) and its Aviation System Blocks Upgrade (ASBU) methodology, which was endorsed by the ICAO’s 38th Assembly in 2013 and which ICAO has to update every 3 years. "The GANP’s ASBU methodology is a programmatic and flexible global systems engineering approach that allows all Member States to advance their Air Navigation capacities based on their specific operational requirements. The Block Upgrades will enable aviation to realize the global harmonization, increased capacity, and improved environmental efficiency that modern air traffic growth now demands in every region around the world".
The co-operation with ICAO on ATM is important to ensure that the implementation of new rules in the European Union will be compatible with, and beneficial for, the neighbouring regions and will integrate in the worldwide aviation network. It is also in the interest of the Single European Sky (SES) if new developments in Europe can be addressed – when necessary - at the global level at ICAO. Such cooperation, based on European coordination by the European Commission with EASA, the SESAR JU and EUROCONTROL, focuses on:
- the development and deployment of SESAR in the context of global interoperability;
- an enhanced coordination of SES policy/legislation with ICAO provisions in view of better harmonisation and standardisation (e.g. work on global standardisation roadmap) within Europe;
- the European support to ICAO in the implementation of the GANP/ASBU;
- the European support to ICAO in the development and implementation of performance based "instruments" (e.g. as the European "performance scheme")
To formalise and strengthen the existing cooperation, a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was signed on 4 May 2011. The MOC addresses cooperation in the areas of aviation safety, aviation security, air traffic management and environmental protection and currently includes two annexes: the Annex on aviation safety was part of the initially signed MOC whereas the Annex on aviation security was adopted subsequently by the EU-ICAO Joint Committee on 18 March 2013. Following a recent agreement by the European Commission and ICAO at the 3rd EU-ICAO Joint Committee meeting on 2 February 2015, a third Annex on Air Traffic Management is being prepared.