Member State reservations notwithstanding, the success of DG-MOVE in establishing the ICAO MOC are significant, providing the Commission with direct access to ICAO security information relating to third-countries. This Council decision further indicates that over time, EU industry stakeholders could obtain security benefits relating to standards and mutual recognition, similar to those incorporated in EU third-country aviation safety agreements.
At the 3080th Council meeting on Transport, Telecommunications and Energy held in Brussels, on 31 March 2011, the Council authorised the signing and provisional application of the MOC which provides a framework for enhanced cooperation in the areas of aviation safety and security, air traffic management, and environmental protection. It includes provisions for on-going dialogue, consultation, exchange of information and expertise, and participation in audit and inspection programmes. Financing by the EU of specific actions and posting of experts to the ICAO secretariat are authorised. With the signature of the MOC the Commission will obtain formal access to ICAO third-country security findings, information previously only available to sovereign (EU) State signatories to the Chicago Convention that established ICAO.
Enhancing cooperation between ICAO and the EU was proposed in the November 2010 “Study on the Legal Situation Regarding Security of Flights from Third-countries to the EU” prepared by Innovative Compliance and DLA Piper for DG-MOVE, also described in the March 29 newsletter, as follows: “The report therefore recommends that, in addition to establishing and coordinating its own sources of information, the EU should continue to seek to establish a mechanism by which it is able to access ICAO information, for example through enhanced engagement with ICAO (Recommendation 2)”.
The assessment and decision relating to the draft MOC by the UK House of Commons Select Committee on European Scrutiny provides UK parliamentarians with the background to the MOC. While ”…accepting that aviation safety, security environmental protection and air traffic management contain certain elements where EU competence has been established”; the Committee expressed concerns relating to “…expanding the role of the Commission at the ICAO to a considerable degree which could therefore be viewed as a step towards the Commission supplanting the role of Member States in what is an international body constitutionally made up of sovereign states”. The UK Select Committee considered this to be an “…important point of principle which is of concern to the (UK) Government”