Global and regional partnership and cooperation are the building blocks of the global aviation system that allow us to achieve in an efficient manner the goals of the Chicago Convention and the objectives set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP), the Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP) and the ICAO Assembly Resolutions. Partnership and cooperation are instrumental towards an optimal and effective use of our scarce resources and necessary to avoid duplications and gaps.

The ICAO European (EUR) Region has a very complex environment where many actors are involved in various fields of civil aviation and with overlapping activities/ areas, having different roles and responsibilities and sometimes having competing goals and interests. It is fundamental to have a clear understanding and agreement of these roles and responsibilities to help improve cooperation and avoid duplication.

In recent years, the role of the EUR/ NAT Office has evolved. The scope of its work currently includes, together with air navigation and aviation safety, aviation security, environment and air transport activities. This evolution towards addressing the civil aviation system in the European and North Atlantic regions as a whole has included, in recent years, numerous No Country Left Behind (NCLB) related activities. This extended scope of the activities covered by the EUR/NAT Office is responding to the ICAO Assembly Resolutions and Council Decisions directing ICAO to increase efforts to assist States in implementing ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). The main goal of this work is to help ensure that SARPs implementation is better harmonized globally so that all States have access to the significant socio-economic benefits of safe and reliable air transport.

The ICAO EUR/NAT Office conducted the first meeting of the EUR/NAT Directors General of Civil Aviation. This meeting was held in Paris on 5 May 2017. It provided high level visibility and sought for a commitment towards the implementation of the ICAO EUR/NAT work programme. It also exposed the full scope of the EUR/NAT Office activities, while raising the awareness on current and future priorities as well as the related challenges.

The ICAO EUR/NAT Office has a long history of successful cooperation with international and regional organizations. The European Commission (EC), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), EUROCONTROL and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), together with Airport Council International (ACI), Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (IFATCA), to name few, are active partners, participating and contributing to the ICAO EUR/NAT meetings and activities, both at the strategic and technical levels. The spectrum of cooperation is very large and is done in the spirit of avoiding duplication of efforts and towards an optimization of the available resources.

Examples of successful cooperation are numerous including, inter-alia, the annual EUR Safety Reports, monitoring and reporting the progress of GANP/ASBU implementation, implementation of air navigation performance framework, the regional PBN implementation programme, etc. A special mention goes to Eurocontrol which is actively involved in all the activities listed above and continuously provides ICAO with valuable tools and expertise in various fields that is made available to all EUR States (e.g. radio frequency management, route development, PBN, civil-military coordination, crisis management etc.).

You may recall as well the close cooperation between ICAO, EC and ECAC on issues related to aviation security and environment. Here I could mention the successful “Joint Mediterranean seminar on Aviation Security and Facilitation“, conducted biannually and organized by the ICAO EUR/NAT Office.

Environment is one area where we could increase cooperation and create partnerships. The recent EUR/NAT DGCA meeting tasked the ICAO EUR/NAT to regionally coordinate the implementation of several ICAO Assembly Resolutions on Environment and we are seeking further cooperation with European institutions and organizations to implement them while avoiding duplication of efforts.

I would like to see strengthened cooperation amongst us in all areas of common interests.

Concerning the new ICAO initiative NCLB, the ICAO EUR/NAT has established a regional NCLB programme that includes a number of projects. Currently the main objective of these on-going projects is to assist States in the GASP implementation by strengthening their safety oversight system, improving the level of effective implementation of ICAO provisions and supporting their efforts to resolve Significant Safety Concerns (SSCs) brought to light through ICAO’s safety oversight audits. The recipients of this programme are mainly States in the Eastern part of the ICAO EUR Region, but we are currently extending the geographical scope to include other States from Europe and North Africa. We already have the chance to be actively supported in our efforts by several States, such as Austria, France and Turkey and we are seeking to extend further this cooperation and support with other States and all regional partners in the framework of the NCLB programme.

ICAO held the Second Global Aviation Cooperation Symposium – “Managing Change: Building a safe, secure, and sustainable aviation community” in Athens, Greece from 11 to 13 October 2017. This event offered an excellent opportunity to discuss further partnership opportunities with all States and regional organizations.

As mentioned earlier, we need to have a clear picture and a common understanding of the role and responsibilities of ICAO as a global organization with a global mandate, and the role and responsibilities of regional organizations, with their own mandate and objectives. At the end of the day, despite divergences and sometimes competing interests we share a common goal: cooperation to ensure a full interoperability and global harmonization of the civil aviation system in a safe, secure and responsible manner.

Recently, ICAO and EASA teamed together and agreed to increase cooperation on matters of mutual interest. ICAO EUR/NAT Office and EASA agreed to combine their efforts in developing a Regional Safety Plan to cover the whole geographical scope of the ICAO EUR Region, based on Chapter 4 of the European Plan for Aviation Safety. This document will reflect the RASG-EUR safety targets and will be a rolling plan linked to current and future versions of the ICAO Global Aviation Safety Plan. This initiative was presented to the Coordination Group of the RASG (5-6 October 2017) together with a first draft of the proposed Regional Safety Plan. The intention is to have a final version of it approved by RASG-EUR by correspondence before the end of the year or very early next year.

The EUR/NAT Newsletter is a new initiative of the ICAO Paris Office, to promote its activities and ensure better visibility of its role and achievements. The first issue of this Newsletter was released on the occasion of the first EUR/NAT DGCA meeting (Paris, 5 May 2017). This second issue is dedicated to regional cooperation.

Luis Fonseca de Almeida took office as the Regional Director of ICAO for Europe and North Atlantic on 4 January 2011.

Mr. Fonseca de Almeida’s life-long career in civil aviation began with the Portuguese Civil Aviation in December 1973. In 2004, he was appointed the Chairman of the Portuguese Civil Aviation Authority (INAC) until January 2011. In September 2007, he was elected President of ECAC till December 2010.

He was Vice President of the Eurocontrol Provisional Council (from 2005 to 2007). As Chairman of INAC, he was also responsible for the Civil Aviation National Security Authority, the Air Transport Emergency Planning Commission and he was seated on the Board of Public Works and Transport.

This article was originally written for the ICAO EUR/NAT Office’s Newsletter (Issue 2) on October 2017. A full list of their newsletters can be found here