Speech at the Press Conference to mark the signing of a Comprehensive Agreement between EUROCONTROL and Morocco
Minister, members of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning.
I am delighted to be here in Morocco, in beautiful Marrakech, and to be part of the impressive Marrakech Air Show. And I am particularly honoured to be here today, as Director General of EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for Safety in Air Navigation with its 41 Member States, to sign a Comprehensive Agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco.
This Agreement is particularly important as it is the first time we are signing such a deep and far-reaching agreement. The Agreement is a clear sign of Morocco moving closer to Europe and becoming part of the European Aviation System. The Agreement that I am signing today with Mr El Aoufir will mean that Morocco will participate from now on in the working structures of EUROCONTROL, and that it will be able to benefit from all the services that the Agency provides.
When EUROCONTROL was first set up in 1960, we had 6 members, all in north-west Europe. Today, we have 41 members, stretching from Ireland in the west to Armenia in the east, 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.
The Kingdom of Morocco has signed a European Civil Aviation Agreement with the EU, thereby opening the two air traffic markets for open and unlimited access. Therefore it is logical and obvious that much greater traffic volumes now need to be catered for. For these technical provisions, common airspace design and common air traffic procedures are prerequisites. This is what EUROCONTROL is about, ensuring that an effective and efficient network is available.
Which is why we are particularly pleased to be expanding our cooperation and our relationship with Morocco by signing this Comprehensive Agreement.
EUROCONTROL and Morocco’s cooperation already has a history. We have been partners in fact since 2001 when we signed a first agreement with Morocco’s Office National Des Aéroports (ONDA) – and over the years, the relationship has grown and our interdependence has deepened. Nearly 850 of the 33,000 daily flights in Europe today pass through Morocco’s airspace. That means that Morocco is an extremely natural partner for EUROCONTROL, both as a result of the flow of flights, but also as a result of our existing relationship and common approach to ATM. And of course, we do not forget the tremendous support and cooperation shown by Morocco in times of crisis and disruption.
So again, I am delighted to be here today, to sign this Agreement, and I am of course ready to answer any questions you may have.