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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 24 September 2013

The EU at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly — Frequently asked questions

What are the main issues at stake at the 38th Assembly?

Safety: more work on safety management will be necessary, as well as a bigger role for regional organisations.

Security: more mutual recognition between states and regions with good security standards.

Air Navigation/Air Traffic Management (ATM): this Assembly should adopt the "global air navigation plan", and by doing so lay down a roadmap for the eventual modernization of the world's ATM system.

Air transport/aviation economics: more liberalisation in terms of market access and air carrier ownership and control, in balance with the need for fair competition and consumer protection.

The impact of international aviation on climate change and the various measures to mitigate this impact: the EU has already included aviation in its emissions trading scheme (ETS) and is now seeking a landmark agreement at the ICAO Assembly on a global measure.

Safety

What is going to be discussed at the Assembly?

Europe, alongside North America, is statistically the safest region in the world for aviation. Through its participation and contribution to this Assembly, Europe seeks to share its experience, as well as provide guidance and ideas, with the global aviation community with the aim of ensuring that further growth in aviation can take place whilst all the time becoming safer. The term "safety" covers a large spectrum of issues and activities, not all of which will be addressed at the Assembly, but on a number of key issues Europe will be looking for concrete results for further action to be pursued at ICAO level. In particular:

  1. Europe wants ICAO to take a position which goes further in recognising and promoting the advantages of a 'regional' approach to safety. In other regions of the world a good cooperation between states can provide a viable option to effectively help them to fulfil their safety obligations. Europe is looking to ICAO to reinforce its recognition of the benefits that a regional approach to safety brings – allowing for greater efficiencies, sharing of expertise and raising standards across the board – and for ICAO to promote this approach in other regions of the world where appropriate.

  2. Europe will also be looking to ICAO for further progress as regards civil aviation oversight and management at a global level, notably through the adoption of a proactive stance in promoting a greater use of risk management as a general principle in safety procedures so as to provide a much better targeting of resources and more efficient outcomes.

What is the expected outcome?

The Assembly is expected to adopt a resolution that reiterates and reinforces the benefits of regional cooperation, and to ensure that this gets reflected in ICAO's rulemaking activities, notably as regards the further development of its (newest) Annex 19 on safety management, as well as its safety monitoring activities in the context of its universal safety oversight audit programme (USOAP).

SECURITY

What is going to be discussed at the Assembly?

The work in the ICAO Assembly builds on the high-level conference on aviation security (Montreal, 12–14 September 2012) and is in general expected to be straightforward. The Assembly will discuss how to have a more secure, while at the same time more efficient, aviation security system. A politically inspired working paper challenging the EU ACC3 air cargo and mail requirements is expected to be presented by the Russian Federation and 54 African states.

What is the expected outcome?

The Assembly is expected to approve the revision of the Resolution A37-17 on "Policies related to the safeguarding of international civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference", thereby confirming the conclusions of the high-level conference, which tackled a number of important issues. In particular:

  1. Europe is keen on the finalisation of reinforced air cargo security rules. Following the high-level conference, those new rules were adopted by the ICAO Council and would be implemented as of 15 July 2013, as revisions to Annex 17 – Security to the Chicago Convention. However, work remains to be done on air cargo and mail security.

  2. Europe also supports the adoption of a mechanism for the mutual recognition of security measures. States would recognise the equivalence of aviation security measures with the same standards of security. This would pave the way to a one-stop security approach.

  3. Europe supports rules which are more risk-based rather than the "one size fits all" approach in the design of international measures. This is important to determine proportionate actions against acts of unlawful interference and allocate efficiently resources at operational level.

  4. Europe would also like work to be done on improving assistance to capacity-building activities in states that have a significant need to improve their compliance with international standards, but also to introduce some accountability for the recipient states.

  5. Supporting a sustainable aviation security system is also important, so that new rules are not only effective and efficient from the security perspective, but also operationally viable and economically feasible.

AIR NAVIGATION / AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT (ATM)

What is going to be discussed at the Assembly?

Airspace suffers from a lack of capacity and efficiency, due to fragmentation. There are different ATM systems in world regions and within regions. This situation makes it more technically complex, and costly, for airlines to operate and move from one airspace to the other.

Global or regional modern and standardised ATM systems would bring several benefits in terms of capacity, safety, fuel efficiency, and economics. By making airplanes flying on straighter lines for example there would be a decrease in costs and lower fuel consumption. Common standards would allow for global competition between various systems and manufacturers, and lower costs. Furthermore, planes would operate with the minimum of performance change from one airspace to another.

What is the expected outcome?

The Assembly should adopt the global air navigation plan (GANP), and related aviation system block upgrades (ASBU). By doing so the Assembly would lay down a roadmap for the eventual modernization of the world's ATM system. The key to this modernization is interoperability, to avoid a patchwork of differing systems.

Europe has with SESAR, in the same way as the US with NextGen, an advanced programme of ATM modernization. However, to reach an efficient global interoperability ICAO standards are required at the right time. An ICAO standardization road map has been announced in the GANP, but not produced so far. ICAO would need to continue its work on the development of the numerous standards which will become necessary.

AIR TRANSPORT / AVIATION ECONOMICS

What is going to be discussed at the Assembly?

The 6th ICAO Air Transport Conference in March 2013 adopted useful, balanced and progressive conclusions in key areas of the economic regulation of international air transport such as market access, the liberalisation of air carrier ownership and control, fair competition and consumer rights. This guidance should be well reflected in the decisions to be taken by the Assembly in the context of ICAO's work programme.

What is the expected outcome?

The Assembly is expected to deliver results on the following issues:

  1. Adopt a "long-term vision" for market access liberalisation including through a possible multilateral agreement;

  2. Make progress on a multilateral agreement to liberalise air carrier ownership and control;

  3. Update guidance rules on fair competition, which was confirmed by the conference as an "important general principle in the operation of international air services";

  4. Develop core principles on consumer protection.

Progress in these key areas will contribute to the further development of the global economic regulatory framework for international air transport. Indeed, the current framework should be adapted to ensure the long-term sustainability of the air transport sector, and to take account of the increasingly global and competitive environment in which air transport operates today.

CLIMATE IMPACT OF INTERNATIONAL AVIATION

What is going to be discussed at the Assembly?

Aviation accounts for some 3% of global CO2 emissions. Although the impact of aviation is relatively small at the moment, ICAO statistics show that international aviation CO2 emissions are forecast to increase between 4 and 6 times by 2050 from the levels of 2010. In order to limit the risk of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognises that, globally, greenhouse emissions should be cut by 50% in 2050 from 1990 levels so as to prevent an average global temperature increase of more than 2oC above pre-industrial levels. Therefore the forecast growth in international aviation emissions needs to be addressed if aviation is to make its fair contribution to meeting global climate change goals.

What is the expected outcome?

In order to address the climate impacts of aviation and reduce CO2 emissions the European Commission would like the 38th Assembly to establish — in addition to a range of operational and technical measures — an agreement on the development of a global market-based measure which can be in place by 2020. The design of this global scheme, which is also strongly supported by the global aviation industry, should be completed by the time of the next ICAO Assembly, which takes place in 2016.


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