France at ICAO
As a major aeronautical country and a founding member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), France has been a member of the Council of the Organization since its creation with the status of “State of major importance in air transport”. As such, it plays a key role in the Organization’s activities and in the implementation of its strategic objectives, which affects many areas of international civil aviation that are of strategic importance to our country.
As early as 1947, France was recognized by its peers as a prominent actor in civil aviation through the election of Albert Roper as the first Secretary-General of the Organization, who was later reappointed for a second term in office (1944-1951). He had already been the sole Secretary-General of the International Commission on Air Navigation (CINA) established in 1922 in Paris, which was the predecessor of ICAO before World War II. Subsequently, Yves Lambert from 1976 to 1988, and more recently, Raymond Benjamin, from 2009 to 2015, also served as Secretary-General of ICAO. Thus, since 1947, 3 French have been Secretary General of ICAO for a cumulative duration of 25 years.
In the same way, several French commissioners have chaired the Air Navigation Commission (ANC), which does not represent the interests of States but independent technical expertise. Most recently :
- Mr Farid Zizi elected three times between 2014 and 2016
- Mr Daniel Galibert elected twice in 2003 and 2004.
Due to their experience and know-how, French technical experts currently sit on all ICAO technical panels and many of its working groups, thus contributing to the implementation of the five strategic objectives of the Organization.
As a partner of ICAO’s "No Country Left Behind" campaign, France is involved in numerous bilateral assistance programs with several ICAO member States, particularly through its 45 cooperation agreements and its funded programs in cooperation with ICAO. Those actions are often implemented through the French National School of Civil Aviation (ENAC, Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile), one of the Regional Training Centre of Excellence for ICAO’s TRAINAIR + program, which welcomes 2000 students, 45% of whom are foreigners (50 nationalities). France also contributes to ICAO’s activities through the gracious secondment of national technical experts to the Organization. In 2016, this in-kind assistance was valued at CAD 971,000 and represented 12% of the personnel made available by ICAO member States, which amounts to the second state contribution to ICAO.
On a voluntary basis, France also contributes to several ICAO assistance programs or ones in support to its Strategic Objectives, such as :
- The project to support civil aviation in Africa (ASACA), a cooperation project (FSP) targeting 22 countries in West and Central Africa, as well as Madagascar. This ambitious project has received the support of African partner countries’ civil aviation agencies, international organizations (ICAO), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Bank and several other donors. Launched officially on March 14th 2011 in Dakar, the FSP took place from 2011 to 2014 with a French government funding amounting to €1.5 million. Its objective was to strengthen the capabilities of African States in the field of civil aviation security and the prevention of terrorist attacks against air transport through the training of the local workforce.
- The continued growth in air traffic requires a better airspace management. This calls upon performance improvements to reduce the delays imposed on air carriers, an improved traffic control to reduce the distances traveled and hence CO2 emissions, an increase in economic efficiency and the guarantee of high level safety measures. To that end, ICAO’s 37th Assembly set specific targets for performance-based navigation (PBN) in its resolution 37-11. With the ratification of an agreement signed with ICAO and ASECNA on November 20th 2012, France agreed to provide technical and financial support to the flight procedures program in Africa (AFPP) set up by ICAO in order to achieve the objectives of resolution 37-11. French support in this framework is programmed between 2014 and 2017 for a total amount exceeding USD 500,000.
- On the occasion of the ICAO’s Africa and Indian Ocean Aviation Safety Symposium (AFI) organized in Dakar in May 2014, a cooperation arrangement was signed between France, Madagascar and ICAO for the provision of technical assistance to Malagasy civil aviation. This technical assistance mission defined by ICAO, amounting to a USD 450,000 French contribution, aims at reinforcing the capacity of Madagascar to control and monitor its airlines and thus enable the State to regain a strategic economic development lever. It directly contributed to the lifting of the restrictions imposed on Malagasy national airline Air Madagascar since 20 April 20th 2011 to operate within the European Union’s airspace.
France maintains a Permanent Representation to the Council of ICAO, located within the Organization’s headquarters in Montreal, Canada. This diplomatic mission is in daily contact with the ICAO Secretariat and represents France at the Council on all the subjects tackled by the Organization. Those subjects cover issues such as the monitoring of strategic objectives and the management of ICAO’s actions. The Permanent Representation is responsible for supporting French technical experts who regularly come to participate in the many working groups the Organization hosts, which tackle a wide range of subjects regarding international civil aviation.
The staff of the mission reports to the Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the Council. He is helped by two deputies coming from the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) :
- The first deputy is also a member of ANC and is responsible for all the issues tackled by this technical body ;
- The second deputy, who is also an alternate representative to the Council, monitors the organization’s more general affairs (legal, economic, political, financial, aviation security related, environment related, etc.) and the administration of the mission.
The Permanent Representation ensures the follow-up of the subjects discussed at ICAO and coordinates the actions with the French administrations concerned, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the DGAC, linked to the Ministry of Transport. The Representation is also responsible for monitoring and promoting the French presence within the Organization, in partnership with the Delegation for International Civil Servants (DFI) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
While France has a great technical expertise to define its positions at ICAO, coordination with our European partners is necessary, permanent and essential. This coordination takes place in several forms : within the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), in the institutions of the European Union (whose transport is a shared competence) and, on a daily basis, within the European Council which brings together the European delegations active in Montreal.