What will be your top three strategic objectives if chosen to be EUROCONTROL’s next Director General?
• Define the role of the Organisation and its Agency, based on current discussion with the stakeholders
The discussion on the scope of activity of EUROCONTROL must be framed and finalised. The power game must turn into a functional division of roles, stressing the fields where EUROCONTROL may be a strong contributor to the value chain of the aviation community. In particular, EUROCONTROL should continue with the provisions of services, where its advantages are established and agreed (as NM, CRCO, and some CSS; with proven added value for ATM). MUAC will be decided by 4 States without a budgetary impact on other States. It may be used for some strategic validations by EUROCONTROL.
In short, I want EUROCONTROL to build on its accrued values and extend them in the context of a new functional framework of aviation Institutions.
• Define the geographical scope of the Organisation and the way of its collaboration with its neighbours
Presently, EUROCONTROL has 41 members States from the entire European region. Although the scope of cooperation/partnership might potentially cover all regions of the Globe- due to the nature of the business- full membership should be limited to a defined scope of ECAC States. This would not prevent the necessity of having close relationship with the neighbouring States of EUROCONTROL, which should be supported by agreement. These relationships may include technical cooperation with CRCO, NM (including CS if appropriate) and data analysis. Nevertheless, the rule and decision taking should stay within the Member States. Membership, and its extension, should have its strategy clearly defined. The Agency DG will be the facilitating and non-proactive element in this process.
• Consolidate the EUROCONTROL Agency
The consolidation will balance pressure on the cost efficiency and the need to clearly demonstrate added value for the Member States and ATM industry, and ability to support the agreed mission and roles of EUROCONTROL.
A sustainable budget and a 5 year plan to create an environment within which the main values of EUROCONTROL- built over the decades- could be used for the benefit of all of its constituents. It would be measured by its ability to serve the ATM industry in a transparent and non-discriminating way, based on a comprehensible and approved strategy.
Staff of the Agency is a unique asset which under a clearly defined mission should be motivated to fulfil the tasks of the Agency. In the past, the Agency witnessed a significant reduction of staff numbers and various pressures for changing the priorities. It is important to establish a new equilibrium of the budget and added value of its services supported by longer term missions and plans. The changes in staff regulations, which are a necessary condition to achieve, must be duly and openly explained to the Agency staff. I am aware that it is difficult to have their support, but at the beginning, I would like to achieve their understanding.
Similarly, which three key initiatives would you pursue so as to reduce the costs of running the EUROCONTROL Agency and Organisation?
• EUROCONTROL’s budget and 5 year plan is a result of the systematic work of the Agency Management and must be under the control of the Member States The budgetary process must be clear and be presented in a transparent way to the Members, and clearly explained to the stakeholders. Structural changes (internal tax alignment) and reduction of costs associated with activities no longer required will form the bases for savings.
• Introduction of new concepts must be completed solely on the condition that there is an unquestionable buy -in.
• EUROCONTROL should be perceived as an organisation that provides a top quality service with an end user oriented culture
These are three basis initiatives which in my view will have a direct impact on the budget of the Agency. I must also stress that turning the trend of increasing the budget of a vast international organisation is not a task for one year. It is important to establish a trend with a duly deliberated and clear impact on the budget. Flat costs base for the next reference period is a minimum requirement in this process.
For decades, EUROCONTROL has been operating with an ever increasing budget. Sometimes this embedded structural complexity scarcely allowed for full control by the Member States. This trend was halted from 2009, but the price for achieving that was high both in terms of monetary value and in terms of personal effort. The ETS scheme costs a vast amount of money and at the end of this process the Agency lost part of its valuable workforce. Nevertheless, this was important to be completed as a “trend changer”, but unfortunately the process was not followed by consolidation and not properly finalised. This is as far as the personnel costs are concerned. In the budgetary process, focus must be given to reduce overheads and duplications in all budgetary chapters and items.
This is achievable by using the three elements, which must be well balanced
a) Communication and getting the buy in of the key stakeholders. In particular, the Agency should only provide the services and develop the concepts that are really required (not thought to be required)
b) Teamwork - a team of directors must communicate and implement a shared and clear vision
c) Motivation - The staff regulations must be modernised in a way to give better opportunities to those determined, capable and ready to work hard
In this context, I would like to stress that the quality of the output of the Agency is as important as its running costs. Both questions are equally important to me; the former should never be resolved at a detriment to the latter.
How can EUROCONTROL contribute in supporting Member States and ANSPs to make Air Traffic Control cheaper and more competitive?
The new EUROCONTROL should act as a technical arm of the European Union, implementing the SES regulations throughout Europe and even beyond its borders; enhancing cooperation with non EU member countries. EUROCONTROL should act as a body where technical solutions should be found and discussed with all the stakeholders and when achieved the buy in, those solution should be proposed to the European Commission to transpose them into mandatory rules and agreements. This is a big potential for efficiency in all aspects, including the aviation and its infrastructure. EUROCONTROL is one of very few organisations which can facilitate this process impartially and efficiently, and in a way that could be considered as subsidiary.
Let me stress the main points EUROCONTROL may achieve in this respect:
• Support the Member States, EC, and the ATM industry in implementing the international rules and regulations such as SES Regulations. Provide the necessary technical and operational know how in an impartial way. Help to maintain the benefits of the whole network by ensuring cooperation necessary with non SES States, and to use its expertise to avoid inconsistencies and duplications. EUROCONTROL must not get involved in any activity which could be perceived as competition with any industry player or in any activity that can be considered as unfair support to any industry player. This must be the golden rule and the only possibility to keep its impartiality (and also impartiality between smaller and bigger States and ANSPs etc.). Provide and enhance its services (NM, CRCO, CS, data mining) with a controlled budget and provide added value in all domains. New services will be provided only if there is an unambiguous buy in and procurement free of any conflict of interest. EUROCONTROL should not duplicate its activities with other institutions and agencies active in R&D, defence and regulation etc., but rather provide its unique experience in managing the multinational projects by concerted effort with those primarily in charge.
• Due to its unique database and ability to analyse data, more added value should be provided to the industry, EC and Member States by adding the intelligence /data mining and provide results transparently and impartially for everyone’s use and benefit
• Because of EUROCONTROL’s proven record of successful international projects, it can serve as a project management office for international ATM projects e.g. in R & D support
EUROCONTROL will, due to its impartial and neutral attitude to its member States, help to create the opportunities for all States and ANSPs to get involved in all aspects of ATM, according to the known and anticipated rules. Owing to its ATM database and evaluation methodology, it can provide feedback and thus provide a base for fair competition focused on quality, price, safety and all other aspects important in the industry it represents.
What would be your personal role in arbitrating between EUROCONTROL’s key Stakeholder Groups (inter alia large and small Member States, the European Commission, European Aviation Safety Agency, the Air Navigation Service Providers, the Airports and the varying Airspace Users)?
My added value in this respect is my knowledge of the industry from a variety of perspectives; as former employee of EUROCONTROL and current CEO of an ANSP I have considerable knowledge in all aspects of the arbitration process. In my role as EUROCONTROL Agency DG, I can provide the following abilities:
• Managerial and diplomatic skills- my proven ability to interface with the political environment
• My proven ability to communicate, and guarantee that fair play, honesty and openness prevail in communication. I do not support addressing the problems by shortcutting communication or by manipulating behind the scenes
• My ability to understand priorities and transform them into clear visions and missions (as demonstrated in my ANS role)
• My ability to conduct efficient social dialogue- demonstrated by 10 years without social conflict, while at the same time having a performance driven culture and a payment scheme in the environment of ANSP, by way of open and transparent communication
• My ability to build a senior management team united by a common vision and a common voice
In my role as EUROCONTROL DG, I intend to change the way EUROCONTROL communicates to its stakeholders at all levels. My priority is to listen and to be understood. An example of this would be the over-complexity of documents produced occasionally by EUROCONTROL, which can be incomprehensible and remain unread.
EUROCONTROL should be active (but not necessarily dominant) in developing a commonly shared vision of the industry, where all stakeholders create a part of its value chain.
My priority is to frame the role of EUROCONTROL, avoiding all duplication with other stakeholders, and to help the other stakeholders to achieve the same.
This should open up for the synergies of all the stakeholders and avoid duplication of their roles. The existing resources of EUROCONTROL would be shared with these stakeholders in a way that is accepted by all of them and which brings the best effect for the aviation community. Due to numerous existing overlaps at present, the commonly accepted priorities must be set very soon. The procedures and priorities must be achieved with clarity and openness towards these stakeholders.
It may evoke the legitimate question as to why not simply attach some part of the agency to those organisations. I strongly believe that this is not a good solution because by this approach interdisciplinary abilities and economy of scale of present EUROCONTROL would be lost. If the Agency does not prove its ability to implement the visions and concepts expected by its shareholders, the question of further delegation of some blocks of functions could become relevant.