Editorial: The strength in unity

By Augustin de Romanet, President of ACI EUROPE

On 14 June, at our 27th General Assembly in Paris, I will pass the baton as President of ACI EUROPE to my successor. Looking back at the past 2 years, it is quite striking to see how our environment has changed. The ultimate legacy of the Global Financial crisis has revealed itself. Political disruption is now prevailing over the economy in reshaping our societies and exposing businesses to new risks.

In such an environment, regulatory risks are set to increase – on the back of public policy becoming more instable and less predictable. While this is very visibly the new reality that businesses are themselves bracing for in the US, it is also unfolding in Europe. Brexit is here to remind us that where politics are concerned, what was once unthinkable can actually happen – and that the cosiness of the EU Single Market can suddenly no longer be taken for granted.

All this means that while futureproofing your business never was the exclusive preserve of individual company action, it now, more than ever, requires collective action at industry level. This is where – in my view – the strategic relevance of trade associations is coming to the fore. And that strategic relevance is only set to increase in the coming years. Being uniquely positioned to access privileged information, decipher complex political environments and navigate legislative processes – trade associations allow their members to anticipate, adjust and respond to political disruption.

ACI EUROPE is the trusted and authoritative voice for airports in Brussels and beyond and I am confident that our industry is amongst the best placed in Europe. As the outgoing President of the association, you may think I am slightly biased… but this happens to be exactly what several high-ranking Commission officials have said publicly – and reiterated to our Board earlier this year.

These things do not come easily, nor by chance. In the case of ACI EUROPE, they were built over years of consistent, constructive and trustful engagement with our institutional stakeholders. For this reason, I am immensely proud of the work our team is doing in Brussels to represent and advance your interest. From security, safety and the environment to consumer rights, economic regulation, Open Skies and Brexit – there is no policy issue that ACI EUROPE is not actively engaged on. Keeping airports united on all these things is no small feat. One only has to look at how the airlines remain so fragmented in their own representation. But our unity is essential – and it is the result of a sound governance and collective leadership. Alexandre Dumas put it more succinctly: “One for all and all for one!”

Looking forward, there are challenges aplenty. I know ACI EUROPE is ready – with a sound strategy, a strong service ethos and a talented team. Its focus will continue to be on delivering value to its members and positioning airports as sustainable businesses in their own right, supporting prosperity by driving international connectivity. I wish the next President and everyone working at ACI EUROPE every success in the year ahead and hope that they can continue to count on the engagement of the membership as they strive to represent this wonderful industry in an ever-evolving world.

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