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Brussels, 4 April 2009

EU and Africa join forces to develop aviation cooperation

Cooperation between Africa and Europe in air transport is on the eve of a new start. Following the two days EU-Africa aviation conference, which took place in Windhoek on 2-3 April 2009, the EU Commission and the African Union Commission have agreed on the principle for an ambitious common strategic framework to develop safer and more sustainable air transport. This framework should contribute to boosting air transport in Africa and creating new opportunities between both continents. Several initiatives have been discussed in safety, economic regulation, air traffic management, navigation aids, environment and security.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani and Commissioner Louis Michel launched this initiative with Dr Elham Ibrahim, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy.

"Europe and Africa must strengthen their links and cooperate more in aviation. We will both benefit from a new air transport dynamics between our continents", said Vice-president Tajani. "Improved safety standards and more choice are at the basis of our new dialogue. There are a number of actions which can easily contribute to change the picture of air transport in Africa. ", he explained.

Commissioner Michel added that "This framework goes hand-in-hand with the EU-Africa Infrastructure Partnership which aims to link-up the African continent and its regions through increased investment in infrastructure. Aviation is a key part of the infrastructure-linkage."

During these two days, representatives of the European and African aviation sectors representing public authorities, airlines, aerospace industries and service providers have worked on the potential to stimulate air transport in Africa and encourage an exchange of ideas on aviation matters between the two continents.

The two parties will establish arrangements for a permanent strategic dialogue in aviation matters, aiming at :

  1. Improving safety and security matters. The European Commission could provide increased technical assistance. Training seminars and pilot schemes are viewed as immediate activities to set up.
  2. Supporting the Yamoussoukro Decision[1] process of liberalisation of African air transport to develop a strong sector in both passenger and cargo. The European Commission will support the development and evolution of the Executing Agency for implementing the Decision and assist in the definition of the appropriate regulatory environment and market access.
  3. Developing further co-operation in air traffic management and the related SESAR programme, in particular to identify the changes required to optimise the flow of traffic.
  4. Engaging in a broad dialogue on application of environmental protection and support the improvement of the performance of air operations.
  5. Extending the EGNOS satellite navigation system so that it provides the same services to civil aviation over Africa as it does over Europe.

To this end, both parties have agreed to set up a Common Strategic Framework and Action Plan for the EU-Africa dialogue in air transport which will detail the areas of possible cooperation. The agreement will be formalised after the accomplishment of all the required internal procedures.

During the conference, a declaration pertaining to the signature of the horizontal agreement between the Western African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the European Community was signed by representatives of both sides. This horizontal agreement will lead to the opening to all European and WAEMU carriers all the routes between the two regions.

[1] The Yamoussoukro Decision aims at creating a single airspace in Africa, with one of the most innovative provisions being the principle of free market access of (eligible) air carriers for intra-African connections.

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