European Commission set to replace the role of Member States at ICAO

On 31 March, the Transport Council adopted a Decision formally approving the signing and provisional application (until the date of the signing) of a memorandum of cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The memorandum of cooperation is intended to provide a framework for enhanced cooperation in the areas of aviation safety and security, air traffic management, and environmental protection. This will have an impact on relations between Member States and ICAO and entails transfer of power between Member States and the Commission at the ICAO.

The Commission will have a broader role at the ICAO, replacing the role of Member States at this international body composed of sovereign states.

Theresa Villiers, the Minister of State, Department for Transport, said to the European Scrutiny Committee that the Government agrees that the explanatory memorandum covers issues where the EU has competence, nevertheless it is concerned that the position of Member States at the ICAO, is at stake. According to the minister the Memorandum of Cooperation “could eventually lead to the Commission securing overall competence in ICAO matters through full membership of the organisation”, which “would be detrimental to EU interests at the ICAO and to the interests of individual Member States.

The Government has decided to abstain from supporting the draft Decision. The decision was adopted by QMV, therefore the UK could not have vetoed the proposal, but it could have sought a blocking minority.

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