Dear State-Secretary Dijksma, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am pleased to see so many stakeholders gathered here including Ministers, Airports, Airlines, Air Navigation Service Providers.
Just over a month ago, the European Commission launched its aviation strategy, outlining a vision for this important sector. Important because it employs 2 million European citizens directly; it contributes 110 billion euro to EU GDP; it ensures that remote areas of the Union can stay connected, and benefit from industries such as tourism, which in some regions would be non-existent without aviation. Connectivity is also a core driver for Jobs and Growth.
This is the first time we have had an aviation strategy. We have had a successful period of growth in EU aviation since liberalisation in the 1990s. We must build on this success and replicate this globally.
In 2016 we begin to deliver on the Aviation Strategy, in partnership with you, the stakeholders of the aviation ecosystem. It is therefore particularly Useful and necessary to have this aviation summit. It allows all actors in the aviation ecosystem to come together. And I welcome again the creation of the Airlines 4 Europe group – airlines coming together, to move forward, as we begin to implement the strategy. Let us look briefly at four key areas for implementation.
1. External Focus
The Commission wants to ensure that the EU aviation sector remains a leading player in international aviation. We need to build relationships in new parts of the world in order to benefit from new markets such as China, the Gulf or the ASEAN region. For this to happen, we need a clear and fair regulatory environment, through comprehensive agreements between the EU and other regions.
It is my hope that in 2016, member states will agree on as many mandates as possible, to allow for work on these comprehensive agreements. We have put forward an ambitious package of requests and I hope you will support us. I urge Ministers to prioritise this. We also will present new measures to address Unfair Commercial Practices in the first half of 2016 to ensure a level playing field for EU airlines internationally.
2. Internal EU Market
Completing the SES initiative remains central for sustainable success within the European Union. It also keeps our sector competitive globally. I urge all partners, in particular the EU Member States under the leadership of the Dutch Presidency, to complete work on the SES 2 regulation, so that it can enter into force as soon as possible. Delivering on the SES 2 regulation in 2016 is vital. This is the single biggest issue to be resolved in making our EU aviation market more efficient and competitive. Action at EU level is needed to overcome capacity and efficiency constraints, stemming from the inefficient use of current resources (airspace, airports) and market restrictions. Aviation must become an integral element of inter-modal transport, for the best possible connectivity which in turn will help drive growth for Europe’s economy.
Growth is important but not at any cost. The growth must be sustainable and ensure we maintain high standards for:
- Passengers, which is why we are reviewing the passenger rights legislation. We will issue Guidelines on Passenger Rights in 2016, to ensure more clarity.
- Environment. Only last month, I attended the COP 21 Conference in Paris. Climate Change is a European Commission priority. Planes propelled by more sustainable energy sources must become a priority for the aviation sector. When can we expect the ‘Hybrid Plane’ for example? This year the EU must reach an agreement on a Global Agreement on Emissions, to enable carbon neutral growth from 2020. I hope that the ICAO General Assembly will be a success in that respect.
- Safety: I am confident that the Dutch Presidency will make good progress on the new safety Regulation that was put forward as part of the Aviation Strategy. We will also be working towards unleashing the full potential of drones.
- Social Aspects: Workers and ensuring high standards are maintained;
- Security. In these challenging times, security has to be a priority. Confidence in the industry is vital for its success.
4. Innovation & Investment
Innovation is a core enabler to make progress on External and Internal matters as well as maintaining High Standards. This year the Commission will deliver on a proposal for a basic legal framework for the safe use of Drones at European level. Through our infrastructure funding programme, called the Connecting Europe Facility, the EU is investing 2.5 billion euro in the deployment of SESAR, between now and 2020. SESAR solutions can potentially result in the creation of over 300.000 new jobs, and achieve a more efficient use of our airspace at the same time. In 2016, we will deliver on Ownership and Control guidelines. This will provide more certainty and clarity for investors.
Only last week, I was present of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the SESAR Deployment Manager (SDM) to reinforce and expand cooperation between the two organisations. It is a model for future cooperation between the EU institutions on aviation stakeholders.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are at a crossroads in aviation. The status quo is no longer an option. Meeting the challenges facing us will no doubt be disruptive. The successful implementation of this Aviation Strategy will depend on the willingness of all players to collaborate. Aviation is a global industry and all parts of the EU aviation network create value.
A competitive and sustainable air transport sector will allow Europe to maintain its global leadership position benefiting citizens, industry, and driving jobs and growth. In 2015, we outlined an ambitious vision for the aviation sector. In 2016, it is time for delivery
I want to thank the Dutch Presidency for today's event. I hope you will succeed in making progress on key files such as the Requests for mandates; the EASA Basic Regulation; SES 2+;
Thank you for your participation. I look forward to the debates.