Speech on the occasion of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement between the State of Israel and EUROCONTROL
Minister Katz, Mr Feldschuh, Mr Regev, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
It is an honour and a privilege for me to be here in Jerusalem today, as Director General of EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for Safety in Air Navigation with its 41 Member States, to sign a Comprehensive Agreement between EUROCONTROL and the State of Israel.
This Comprehensive Agreement is very special in the history of EUROCONTROL and it is particularly important as it is a clear sign of the importance we attach to ensuring that Israel can move closer to Europe and become part of the European Aviation System. This Agreement, as supported by 41 Member States in a unanimous vote, means that Israel will participate from now on in all the working structures of EUROCONTROL and that it will be able to benefit from all services that the Agency provides.
The State of Israel signed a Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement with the European Union in 2013, and this Comprehensive Agreement seeks to build on that, supporting the increasing numbers of flights between Europe and Israel, in a safe, punctual, cost-effective, environmentally-friendly way, supporting the aims of Israel to increase passenger numbers and the Israeli economy by attracting business and visitors. The Agreement is to ensure that traffic to and from Israel is factored into the needs of the European network as a whole.
When EUROCONTROL was first set up in 1960, we had six members all in north-west Europe. Today, we have 41 members, stretching from Ireland to Georgia, from Norway to Cyprus, and we see major, practical and tangible benefits as a result, both for the countries involved and for the network as a whole, especially as the network becomes even more interconnected, with even more traffic.
Cooperation between EUROCONTROL and Israel is not new. With more than 300 flights a day moving between our areas, we have been coordinating air traffic flows for a number of years. And of course we have also worked closely together to manage crisis events. In fact, Mr Gad Regev was the first ever representative of a non-EUROCONTROL Member State to address one of our crisis meetings when he briefed us on the situation in Israel following the closure of Ben Gurion airport due to a rocket attack in summer 2014. The result of that intervention and the close cooperation between EUROCONTROL and Israel led to the resumption of flights to Ben Gurion airport being so essentially important to link Israel to the rest of the world. At that time already, our joint efforts and close cooperation helped to improve the efficiency of how we managed the crisis.
That means that Israel is an extremely natural partner for EUROCONTROL, both as a result of the flow of flights, but also as a result of our growing trust and interdependency. So we are particularly pleased to be expanding our cooperation and our relationship with Israel by signing this Comprehensive Agreement today.