2017 Year-End address of the Provisional Council President to the EUROCONTROL Member States

29 November 2017

The Provisional Council, in December 2015, extended my mandate by two more years and as I indicated earlier this year 2017 will be my last year as President of this honorable body.

Looking back over the nearly 4 years I had the honor to preside over the Provisional Council, I think that EUROCONTROL and its Member States jointly managed to make some good progress in a number of important areas.

Although in the start of my first mandate as PC President we were confronted with several crisis situations negatively impacting on the Network and the overall capacity, I am glad to see that in my second mandate and until now traffic demand continues to increase and now even at a rate of 5% annually. However, a combination of ATC capacity, staffing and weather constraints keep contributing to higher than expected delays in the summer period, with a projection for a 2017 end-of-year delay average of 0.85 min/per flight.

I should also mention the preparatory work done by the Study Group of Alternates of the Permanent Commission which under the chairmanship of Patrick GANDIL, DGCA France, had delivered its Final Report to PC/46 in December 2016. This report contained a long list of detailed recommendations aiming at modernising EUROCONTROL, aligning it to its present roles and tasks and more firmly positioning it between other international and European institutions. Two groups of Member States’ Volunteers supported by the Agency had worked hard during the past year to action the different recommendations. This work was done in close coordination with the Stakeholders and the first results of this work will now be submitted to PC/48 in December 2017 for decision. This work will include proposals on EUROCONTROL’s future governance including civil-military coordination, it’s financing and the involvement of the Stakeholders in the decision making processes.

As I indicated before, the Member States in December 2016, in conjunction with the Study Group of Alternates’ Final Report, were also to list EUROCONTROL’s future roles and tasks. A draft Permanent Commission Decision was presented to the Member States at the time and it was explained that this Decision would require the unanimous approval of all Member States. In order to acquire this  unanimous support, as I explained before, some further high-level discussions will be needed to reach the consensus.

Good progress was made this year on the important task given by the Member States regarding Performance Review. The Member States extended the mandate of six of the current PRC Commissioners by two and a half more years, and made good progress in defining its complementary role towards the EU and its future PRB. Also I should mention that in October this year EUROCONTROL and the European Commission signed a four-year contract under which EIUROCONTROL, through its Performance Review Unit, will continue to provide support to EC DG-MOVE for the performance and charging schemes of the Single European Sky.  I recently chaired a PRC Selection Board which managed to select from a large number of candidates three new PRC Members bringing the total number of PRC Members to 7 Members. The Member States’ approval of the appointment of these nominated new PRC Commissioners, as well as of two nominated reserve candidates, is currently being sought through the approval by correspondence procedure.

In regard to Safety I earlier explained that EUROCONTROL was recognized by its Member States as being a “Centre of expertise” for ATM Safety matters.  At the Ad-hoc PC Session held in March this year, a joint “EASA-EUROCONTROL Safety Roadmap” was endorsed by the Member States, which will allow a smooth transition towards a new scenario at the beginning of SES RP3, with clearly defined tasks in the safety area for both EUROCONTROL and EASA. In line with the Provisional Council’s decisions, the current Annual Safety Reporting - AST mechanism will continue operating until the end of RP2, with a view to allowing the SES - European Central Repository (ECR) the necessary time to increase the quality of its safety occurrence data in the ATM domain. Beyond that point, the ATM safety work of EUROCONTROL, particularly in the area of safety occurrence reporting, will focus on complementing the tasks of EASA. The scope of that work outside the EU is still being considered and the parties concerned acknowledge the need to work towards a solution that also meets the requirements of those Member States in which EU law does not apply, but recognizing that the EASA-EUROCONTROL Safety Roadmap may not be the primary tool to address that key aspect.

EUROCONTROL’s assistance to ICAO and to its Member States in the Assembly continued over the past years to be much appreciated. I already mentioned EUROCONTROL’s unique expertise in civil-military coordination and the specific tool it has developed for this purpose. This expertise is duly recognized at global level and will, through this international cooperation, be used to further develop ICAO’s guiding documentation relating to Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA), taking it to more advanced levels (AFUA). More recently, but equally  appreciated was EUROCONTROL’s assistance relating to the continued discussions in the ICAO Council on CO2 emissions and further measures needed to achieve aviation de-carbonization.

I earlier explained to the Member States that the Provisional Council in December this year will be discussing the re-nomination of EUROCONTROL by the European Commission as the European Network Manager. In coordination with the President of the Permanent Commission, Piotr Samson (DGCA Poland), an ad hoc PC/CN Session was convened on 28 March 2017, in order for the States to discuss and decide on the increased management autonomy of Director Network Manager, which in fact is a requirement for the re-nomination. I need to explain that the current nomination by the European Commission of EUROCONTROL as the Network Manager for a period of two Reference Periods ends in December 2019. The European Commission -DG-MOVE , has in the meantime launched the process of re-nomination for the periods of 2020 onwards, first announced as part of its Aviation Strategy published in December 2015, and more recently in the Single Sky Committee of October 2017.  The European Commission has meanwhile confirmed its intention to nominate EUROCONTROL as the Network Manager for the upcoming reference periods, as it considers the latter to offer the highest quality of operational results.

Another matter that was discussed in our PC/47 Session held in June 2017 was the Report on the state of play with regard to the implementation of Permanent Commission Decisions Nos. 128 and 129 on the Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC), its future alignment to the Agency’s new Cost Allocation mechanism and on the decision making regarding the amendment of the Maastricht Agreement which includes a wider managerial freedom of the Director MUAC. This matter is also included in our PC/48 Agenda in December next, and I sincerely hope that the Member States will be able to unanimously move forward in the proposed direction.

During the past years the Provisional Council addressed during several of its plenary Sessions the Agency’s contractual proposals on Centralised Services. For the upcoming December PC Session the CS Item is again on the Agenda and I sincerely hope that the Agency and the European Commission – DG-MOVE and its Network Management Board will, by then, have been able to provide the answers to the remaining questions that were raised by several of the Member States and the Stakeholders during earlier discussions on CS. In any case, I would again like to thank the Director General of DG-MOVE, Henrik HOLOLEI, for his continued constructive approach in this particular matter.

Also on the issue of international cooperation I would underline the continued efforts of the Director General, Frank Brenner, in expanding the scope of EUROCONTROL and its services to new States situated at Europe’s border. In 2016 two States, i.e. the Kingdom of Morocco and the State of Israel, concluded Comprehensive Agreements with EUROCONTROL bringing these States in our midst in the Provisional Council and involving them much closer in the work exercised by the Organisation for and on behalf of the Member States. I understand that discussions are currently ongoing with the Republic of Tunisia that may in the coming months lead to the conclusion of a Comprehensive Agreement with this State.

In earlier publications I already mentioned EUROCONTROL’s cooperation with the United Arab Emirates regarding flight data exchange and with China, and I understand that such cooperation is now also being negotiated with other countries. The Agency has meanwhile developed and further matured the operational data exchange with Brazil and the United Arab Emirates, and is now looking to extend this type of arrangement to other countries, and I understand that Singapore may be interested to conclude such an agreement with EUROCONTROL shortly. This exchange of real-time operational data helps to improve predictability, which in turn assists the Network to increase capacity, something that is becoming increasingly important as traffic is once again reaching record level.

In the framework of the ICAO Regional Meetings, both I and colleagues from the European Commission attended over the past years several meetings that were organised by ICAO in the AFI framework in order to share our joint expertise on Safety and Security matters with the African States. With regard to the agreement between EUROCONTROL and IATA, activities in the context of the implementation follow-up of AIS/AIM action plans in the AFI Region were resumed in 2017. On earlier occasions the AIS in the AFI Region has been identified as a “shortcoming” both in regard to operational safety as well as in its lack of progress in transitioning to AIM. IATA and EUROCONTROL have now partnered to support the improvement of aeronautical information in the AFI Region through a series of focused workshops, and the continued support from the Agency in sharing its expertise with other regions will be indispensable and highly appreciated.

During my two terms as PC President, I was invited by several Member States to discuss key issues on the different PC Agendas with their respective Ministers of Transport and Infrastructure. I am proud to say that more recently I was able to explain in further detail the background to, and importance of, for instance the future designation of EUROCONTROL as the Network Manager; the main elements of EUROCONTROL’s future evolution and the added value of maintaining a pan-European approach in exercising its main roles and tasks; and the added value of maintaining a good working relationship with the European Union on matters where our activities overlap, and on other matters that keep returning on our PC Agendas. Maybe the feedback received from the Member States on these visits convinced the Managing Director of Air Transport News to award me the “2017 Air Transport Award – editor’s choice” as was said for “my individual achievements”. I must say that I was most honoured to receive this award and looking at the Members of the Jury who decided to recognise my contribution to European ATM in this way, I see this in particular as the confirmation of the aviation industry’s support for my efforts to help steer global aviation towards a much safer, harmonised and cost-efficient future.

The end of my second term of office is now in sight, and I would like to thank the Member States’ delegates, the colleagues at the European Commission, the Stakeholders, the Agency colleagues represented by the Director General, and the PC/CN Secretariat for their valuable support and contributions, which are indispensable for me to steer the PC Sessions towards a successful outcome. The Director General elect, Eamonn BRENNAN, and my successor will need your continued joint support during their mandates to be able to steer EUROCONTROL in the direction where it can continue to exercise its key roles and tasks for all its Member States, its Comprehensive Agreement States and the Stakeholders and thus enabling all parties involved in European Aviation and ATM to work together towards achieving our common goal.

Yours sincerely,


President of the Provisional Council