The EU- ASEAN Aviation Summit, held in Singapore on February 11-12 proposed to take aviation cooperation to a new level by negotiating a comprehensive air transport agreement between the two sides.

Some 300 political and business leaders from all the 10 ASEAN member countries, 14 European countries, the European Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat attended the summit.

Delegates discussed the rich opportunities in the EU and ASEAN aviation markets and the benefits which both the EU and ASEAN stand to achieve from greater market access and integration in air services and the aviation industry, cooperation to enhance the efficiency of air traffic management and harmonisation of safety and security standards, amongst others.

In particular, the Summit noted these and more potential benefits that the peoples and companies of both regions could enjoy from a comprehensive air transport agreement between the EU and ASEAN.

A declaration was adopted at the end of the summit, emphasising the significant potential for further cooperation and the importance of creating the EU- funded ASEAN Single Aviation Market (SAM).

According to the declaration, the summit has served as a useful platform for deepening the strategic aviation dialogue between ASEAN and the EU and for identifying priority areas and ways forward to strengthen future EU-ASEAN relations in all parts of the aviation value chain.

The two sides intended to set up an ASEAN-EU Aviation Working Group to discuss and monitor progress in the entire range of areas of co-operation and regularly report progress. In his speech delivered at the summit on February 12, Deputy Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam Dinh Viet Thang, said Vietnam do support the implementation of the SAM policy and already have appropriate policies in line with the initiatives to establish the ASEAN SAM by 2015 in the direction toward the ASEAN Economic Community in the future.

A common and coordinated approach in the areas of aviation safety, aviation security and air traffic management will facilitate the formation of the ASEAN SAM and further encourage the growth of the regional aviation sector, he added.

The Vietnamese delegate pointed out advantages and shortcomings faced by the bloc in establishing a well-integrated air transport market.

He also called for the harmonisation of safety standards and regulations in line with criteria by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the introduction of a set of ASEAN safety standards and a regional air safety body.

He made it clear that Vietnam is committed to broader engagement to establish an ASEAN single aviation market, towards realising the ASEAN Economic Community.-VNA