Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General visits EUROCONTROL

18 January 2019

I was delighted to be able to welcome H.E. Mr Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO to EUROCONTROL today to discuss the long-standing partnership between our two organisations. This partnership has been successful in ensuring that the military have the access they need to European airspace when they need it, while ensuring full coordination and minimum disruption to civil air traffic,” said Eamonn Brennan, Director General of EUROCONTROL. “We’re facing a capacity shortfall in European airspace so close cooperation between civil and military is absolutely essential”.

Since its inception in 1960, EUROCONTROL has been a dual civil and military organisation, facilitating the needs of civil and military aviation alike, and with a Civil-Military ATM Coordination Division that works on enhancing civil-military cooperation and interoperability to enhance airspace capacity, flight efficiency and military mission effectiveness.

Cooperation between NATO and EUROCONTROL formally started on 8 May 2003 with the signature of a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC). Even before the signature of the MoC with NATO, cooperation was already well established. NATO and EUROCONTROL run a joint group for air traffic management (ATM) security, the NATO EUROCONTROL ATM Security Coordinating Group or NEASCOG. This group was formed in 2002 as a result of the 9/11 attacks – which also triggered the invocation of NATO’s Article 5 for the first and, so far, only time.

The 9/11 attacks made it clear that society needed to be better prepared for risks to aviation. NEASCOG has identified numerous threats and worked on mitigating actions to counter them. Potential threats range from physical attacks to cyber ones; from Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems to laser interference. The group keeps a close watch on the full spectrum of threats, using advanced risk management processes.

NEASCOG has a wide range of experts from:

  • national civil and military aviation authorities;
  • international organisations, like ICAO, ECAC and IATA;
  • EU agencies;
  • airline, pilot and air traffic controller organisations.

Thanks to NEASCOG, international aviation and air traffic management is now more secure and less vulnerable to unlawful interference.

In the MoC framework, EUROCONTROL and NATO work together on the Alliance’s Rapid Air Mobility - RAM - initiative. It is important for NATO and its Member Nations to be able to deploy forces and their equipment at short notice. The next step is to achieve Full Operational Capability for the RAM.

When NATO runs large-scale military exercises, EUROCONTROL facilitates the necessary civil-military airspace coordination. The Trident Juncture exercise, held from 5 October to 7 November 2018, is a recent example. That exercise brought together some 50,000 participants from 31 NATO and partner countries and involved 250 aircraft, 65 vessels and10,000 vehicles.

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