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Vision 2020 'Personalities' speak
   
   
  One of the main highlights of the Aeronautics days 2001 conference was the presentation of the report entitled 'European aeronautics: A vision for 2020'. Written at the request of Research Commissioner Busquin by a high-level group of industry and research leaders known as the Group of Personalities, it addresses issues such as competitiveness, safety, the environment and air traffic management and sets ambitious goals for the future of European aeronautics.
 

Vision 2020
Vision 2020

Commissioner Philippe Busquin:
The time has come!

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Also available in French (PDF)

For European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, the opening session of the Aeronautics Days 2001 conference was the occasion to explain just why he formed the Group of Personalities and charged it with producing the 'Vision for 2020' report.

"European aerospace is facing major economic, industrial and technological challenges at the start of the 21st century," he said. "While we can all point to major European success stories like Airbus, the situation is bound to change as time goes on. Two points are key here. First, the days of 'higher, farther, faster' have reached their limit. Today, the key words are 'more affordable, safer, cleaner and quieter', and Europe has got to be able to deliver on the modern demands and expectations of its citizens. Second, European aerospace must work to consolidate its position on the world market. With new competitors like Canada and Brazil coming on line and with the United States focussing its substantial resources on strengthening its own position, we must now pull together like never before."

Mr Busquin went on to discuss the importance of taking a long-term view. "It was to this end that I set up the Group," he said. "One of the Group's strengths is that it brings together people from various walks of life within the air transport system, representing all of its components, including industrialists and manufacturers, airports, airlines, air traffic controllers and researchers."

The Report of the Group of Personalities, entitled European aeronautics: a vision for 2020 - Meeting society's needs and winning global leadership, also highlights the relevance of the European Research Area. "We are speaking here," said Mr Busquin, "about better organising research in Europe, and all of the suggestions we have heard as far as setting up the European Research Area can be applied in the aerospace industry. In particular," he continued, "the ERA calls for a reduction in duplication, a balance of national and Community programmes, optimising research infrastructures, increased networking, increased mobility among researchers and the placing of a premium on excellence".

In conclusion, the Commissioner stated, "The report of the Group of Personalities should be a stepping stone into the future for European aerospace. It is now time for public and private decision-makers to take the action and to set aside the resources called for in the report. The time has come!"

Sir Richard Evans:
Time for Europe to measure up

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Chairman of BAE Systems, member of the Supervisory Board of Airbus Industrie and member of the Group of Personalities, Sir Richard Evans is a man with a head for business. Stressing the importance of understanding where one stands before one can say where he is going, Sir Richard pointed to some rather stark statistics. "The United States is the benchmark against which Europe must measure herself," he stated, "and unfortunately, we are lagging behind, both in terms of overall spending and, notably, in the proportion of spending which comes from the government."

In the EU, Evans pointed out, 55% of aerospace R&D is funded by industry, compared to only 35% in the US. In real terms, the US government is spending three to four times what European governments do, and with defence-related R&D on the decline, government funds become all the more crucial. The fundamental message is clear: Europe has to act and to act now in a concerted way to come up with more government investment.

In a departure from his published speech, Evans warned that while European aerospace industry is facing stiff competition from abroad, European governments themselves are also in competition with other governments. "We now stand at a crossroads," he said. "Our governments must do what it takes to retain shareholders. If they don't, with other countries providing investment and attractive tax rates, the European aerospace industry could very well leave Europe altogether."

"We have led the way before," he said. "Just look at Airbus, the Eurofighter, the Concorde. But our work from here on is no longer about individual projects or programmes. It is about a new and broader agenda for the year 2020, including enhanced collaboration across national boundaries and increasing public support for the good of all."

Walter Kröll:
Realistic visionary

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In his presentation at the Aeronautics Days 2001 closing plenary session, DLR Chairman and member of the Group of Personalities, Walter Kröll, addressed societal issues vis à vis aviation. "When we talk about meeting society's needs," he said, "we have to give customers and citizens alike, flying or not flying, the same consideration. This means working to do things like improving safety or making it easier and cheaper to fly while at the same time striving to protect air quality and reducing noise for people living or working near airports."

"By maximising our research potential, we can give ourselves the kind of first class air transport system we know we're capable of," said Kröll, "and we can claim a global leadership role for European aeronautics. Our goals must be visionary, but realistic. We see great things in the year 2020. We expect affordability, safer, cleaner, quieter airplanes, better service with just-in-time check-in and departure, and an efficient ATM (Air Traffic Management) system."

"But this is not just an exercise in predicting the future," Kröll said. "The point is to go out now and make this future vision a reality. What we can say for sure is that Europe cannot go on as it has done in the past. It's not going to work like that any more. We need to stop competing amongst ourselves and turn to co-operation. We also need more public funding. The citizens of Europe need to understand that it is in their best interest to support a lot of this research. We need our educational programmes to work to stimulate the interest of our children in science and technology, and we need to put our best and brightest students together in European units, to work together and to get to know each other. In short, we need a European strategic research agenda."

With the eyes of the Commission now firmly fixed on aeronautics as a central player in the European Research Area, the Group's recommendations are all the more likely to be heeded. With a firm commitment of public support and increasing awareness and concern about the future of air transport, Europe should be set to go on flying high well into the 21st century.

Jean-Luc Lagardère:
The Group of Personalities' 2020 vision is just in time

President of Groupe Lagardère and eminent member of the Group of Personalities, Jean Luc Lagardère made an impressive case for the Group's conclusions at the Aeronautics Days 2001opening plenary session. "This report is just in time," he said to a packed house. " A vision for the year 2020 is just what we need right now. The coming years will see major changes and what we all have to realise is that Europe can become a world reference in the field of aerospace and aeronautics technologies. But we simply are not on a level playing field with our competitors in the United States, where public financing is much higher."

Europe's aeronautics sector may indeed be facing some stark challenges. With air traffic expected to double over the next 20 years, the Group of Personalities' report sets ambitious new targets, including a five-fold reduction in accidents, a halving of perceived aircraft noise, a halving of fuel consumption, an 80% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions and an air traffic system capable of handling 16 million flights per year.

"European research must be co-ordinated and directed if we are to reach our targets," said Lagardère. "And we need the strong support of our governments and our citizens. We are calling for an Advisory Council to be set up to develop ways to foster further co-operation among Member States." The Advisory Council will be in operation as of mid 2001 and will apply those sections of the Treaty which allow for flexibility in the setting of rules for Member States in common action.

"The 2020 vision report sets high standards," said Lagardère, "but let it also stand as a warning. Co-operation is a necessity now, not a luxury. We are no longer in a position to act alone."

Werner Müller:
Key role for Germany in European aeronautics

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Also available in German (PDF)

In his speech at the Aeronautics Days 2001 opening ceremony, Dr Werner Müller, Germany's Minister of Economics and Technology, welcomed participants to Hamburg on behalf of the German government.

"In deciding to hold this conference here, the Commission has given Germany an important endorsement," he said. "This is an acknowledgement of the part we have played in the Europeanising of the aerospace industry. Hamburg, along with Seattle in the United States and Toulouse in France, is now one of the three largest aerospace centres in the world."

While citing important German contributions to aeronautics, including the development of composite materials and carbon-fibre technologies, he underlined the role of the German government in supporting high-level research.

"It is still important to us in Europe to be given a competitive springboard for such an innovative branch of industry, with its high-level jobs and its high value-added products," he said. "In particular, Europe must respond to the vigorous support being provided by the United States government for its own industry. This does not mean getting into a race to subsidise, setting up barriers or making shady deals. Rather, we must embrace the principles of competition, performance and innovation."

Alluding to European strengths as illustrated by Airbus and Ariane successes, Müller concluded by urging further co-ordination between national and European authorities. "Mr Busquin has prepared the ground well with his group of Personalities," he said. "Now, EU support must be given a firm place, with reliable continuity, within the aerospace research network."

Thomas Östros
Aeronautics and the 'three E's'

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In his speech at the Aeronautics Days 2001 opening ceremony, Thomas Östros, Swedish Minister for Education and Science, stressed the importance of balance and excellence in European aeronautics research.

Representing the Swedish Presidency, Östros described his country's focus on the 'three E's' - Enlargement, Employment and Environment. "Co-operative research plays an important role in all of these areas," he said, "becoming increasingly important for economic growth and employment and for the renewal of society along ecologically sustainable lines, and by being open to researchers from candidate and non-member countries, our research and education programmes make an important contribution to the enlargement process."

"One area of European co-operation which has become very important in recent decades is aeronautics," he said, citing the Airbus consortium as a major success in the civil aircraft sector. "A similar trend towards cross-border collaboration is evident in the area of research and technological development. Over the course of successive research framework programmes, aeronautics has grown in relative importance and now holds a strong position with its own 'key action' under the thematic programme 'Competitive and Sustainable Growth'."

Finally, alluding to the recent communication on the European Research Area, Östros said, "One of the main challenges will be to strike the correct balance between, on the one hand, the concentration of resources and, on the other, a healthy competition between the Member States and other institutions. Scientific excellence and the quality of research performed should be the most important criteria when deciding how to invest in research, with European, national and industrial programmes each playing their part."

   
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