The Accession of Spain and Italy
In 2014 two nations joined the EATC; Spain signed the Note of Participation on the 3rd of July 2014 and Italy on the 4th of December 2014. This brings the total number of EATC Nations to 7. The consequences of the accession of Spain and Italy and the process are described in this article.
The accession process starts with a formal letter of the nation requesting accession to the EATC. The request is brought to the attention of the Multinational Air Transport Committee (MATraC), which forms the highest level of the EATC governance structure, in which nations are represented at Air Chief level. Upon this request the MATraC establishes an assessment working group. All relevant information is gathered from the nation concerned to assess the consequences of the accession. The main principle in this process is to safeguard the core business of the EATC; to improve effectiveness and efficiency of the Participating Nations’ military Air Transport efforts. The final assessment report is presented to the MATraC. The next step, after a positive MATraC decision, is the establishment of the accession working group. This working group consists of representatives of all nations, EATC personnel and a by the MATraC appointed chairman. In the case of Spain and Italy the chairman was the EATC Chief of Staff. In the accession working group the terms of accession are discussed. An important item in these negotiations is the Peacetime Establishment (PE). The percentage of the share of the budget entitles the nation to the same percentage of the total of the EATC positions. The balance within the organisation’s PE, where all nations feel appropriately represented, is a delicate matter. When all nations agree to the proposed PE, the final steps in the accession process can be taken, i.e. the note of participation is drafted by the nations’ legal departments and the date for the signing is decided by the MATraC.
Spanish AT aircraft Italian AT aircraft
The signing of the Note of Participation finalises the formal accession process. The true joining of the EATC, on the other hand, has just started. Getting connected to MEAT (Management of European Air Transport) is one of the first concerns. MEAT is the main IT tool inside and outside the EATC to request, plan, task and execute air transport missions. Aircraft can only be brought under the operational control of the EATC if MEAT is successfully implemented in the nations. After the test phase of MEAT and the training of a sufficient number of people on the MEAT application, the new member nation’s Air Transport Requests and aircraft can be transferred to the EATC.
The signature also obliges the new member nation to comply with all existing EATC procedures and regulations e.g. Flight Duty Regulations. This means that the people involved (crews, handling personnel, movement and coordination centre personnel and even headquarters personnel) have to be educated in these procedures. Besides the incorporation of technical features and procedures, people have to move to Eindhoven to take up the positions selected during the PE negotiations.
The consequences of the accession of Spain and Italy in general means more of everything: more aircraft, more types of aircraft, more Air Transport Requests, more EATC personnel, more cross national possibilities and therefore more efficiency, more EATC Diplomatic Clearance nations thus an enlargement of the geographical area where the common diplomatic clearance number for all EATC flights can be used, more MATraC members but also more complexity. To be more precise, the accession of Spain in numbers meant 25 extra aircraft and 30 EATC positions filled by Spain. With the accession of Italy, however, the number of personnel for Spain went from 30 to 27 in relation to the sharing key. The Spanish fleet complements the EATC pool and adds valuable benefit with its small tactical aircraft (CASA 295) and with the new A400M and A330 MRTT in the future. Besides, Spain’s geographical situation and its regular routes provide interesting synergy opportunities.
The accession of Italy has similar positive effects (a larger pool of assets, increase of interoperability, reduction of budget and PE). But, especially in a period when tactical resources are declining, the Italian relatively new fleet is very valuable for the EATC. Italy will transfer the operational control of 37 aircraft to the EATC at the beginning of 2016. To cope with the additional workload Italy contributes with 35 military personnel to be posted to the EATC.
The accession of Spain and Italy is a positive development for the EATC. The expansion of activities means a focus, for the next period, on improvement and synchronisation of internal and external Air Transport processes within the 7 nations, to truly become one EATC organisation to the highest extent possible.