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A European space policy

At the dawn of the new millennium, Europe needs to establish a comprehensive European Space Policy in order to take advantage of the economic and strategic benefits of space for its citizens. This joint document from the European Commission and the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA) is a major step towards defining the European Space Policy.

ACT

Communication from the Commission of 26 April 2007 on the European Space Policy [COM(2007) 212 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

Space activities in Europe have been successfully developed for over 30 years within the framework of the ESA. Now, at a time when new powers are emerging with high ambitions and capabilities as regards space, Europe cannot afford to overlook the economic and strategic benefits of space for its citizens.

STRATEGIC MISSION

Europe needs to develop a proper space policy to enable it to exert global leadership in the space sector, which is a 90bn market worldwide, growing at 7 % per annum. This sector is also a driver for the Partnership for Growth and Jobs.

Major sectors of the economy and many citizens are now increasingly dependent on space systems. The areas which will benefit most from an effective space policy are the environment, development, le climate change, security and defence, innovation and growth, and the knowledge-based society.

The EU, the ESA and their Member States will need to focus their activities in three key areas:

  • establishing a European Space Programme and the coordination of national and European level space activities;
  • increasing synergy between defence and civil space programmes and technologies;
  • developing a joint international relations strategy on space.

APPLICATIONS

In order to maximise the investment in terms of political, economic and social returns, it is essential to develop and exploit space applications that meet the objectives of EU policies and the needs of European enterprises and citizens.

Satellite navigation

The GALILEO worldwide satellite radionavigation system, launched by the EU and the European Space Agency (ESA), is a strategic infrastructure for Europe. This initiative, which will grant fair access and the continuity and safety of service, should be deployed without further delay.

Earth observation

Autonomous access to information relating to the environment, climate change and security isconsidered a priority. The GMES programme will improve Europe's monitoring, assessment and decision-making capacity in a number of areas. For the GMES programme to become fully operational and ensure the provision of sustainable services, the EU and Member States will need to establish appropriate funding mechanisms, infrastructures and management arrangements.

Satellite communications

Satellite communications - broadcasting and telecommunications - account for 40 % of the current revenues of the European space sector and will experience strong growth over the coming years. The EU will support the adoption of innovative services and technology developments to achieve convergence and interoperability between terrestrial and satellite-based networking sectors.

Security and defence

Space assets can make a significant contribution to increasing the security of European citizens. To do so, coordination between the EU's defence and civilian space programmes needs to be improved, while retaining primary end-user responsibility for funding.

FOUNDATIONS

The foundations of the European Space Policy are as follows: science and technology, the International Space Station (ISS) and exploration of the solar system, and access to space.

Science and technology

The EU, ESA and their Member States need to maintain their world leadership in space-based science. The communication states that Europe must commit itself first of all to innovation, identifying critical technologies and guaranteeing their funding, in order to enhance the competitiveness of the industry through technology transfers.

Whilst achieving a better balance between technological independence, strategic cooperation and reliance on market forces, Europe seeks to ensure sustained investment and stresses the importance of attracting young people into science and engineering.

International Space Station (ISS) and exploration of the solar system

Optimum utilisation of the International Space Station should contribute to the creation of new knowledge and thus of innovative applications for the benefit of all Mankind (new materials, new therapies in medicine, future planetary missions, etc.). Europe should therefore prepare for a visible, robust and affordable exploration programme, that is capable of responding to the challenges set by the USA, China and Russia in this sector.

Access to space

Independent and cost-effective access to space remains a strategic goal for Europe. The launcher assets under EU control will be taken into consideration when defining European programmes.

A COMPETITIVE EUROPEAN SPACE INDUSTRY

Europe needs a globally competitive European space industry. An effective industry policy which defines clear policy objectives and mobilises the public funds required should give priority to three aspects: the regulatory framework, public investment in space and research and development (R&D).

GOVERNANCE

After having identified user needs, the EU will use its full potential to muster the political will in support of these objectives. The role played by the ESA is crucial, particularly as regards technical expertise and programme management, specifically in the field of R&D.

The Framework Agreement between the EC and the ESA has provided significant advances as regards cooperation in policy development, and forms a solid base for coordination arrangements between intergovernmental and Community actions. The goal is to pursue closer and more effective cooperation and, in particular, to develop space systems and sustain the supply of associated services responding to relevant EU sectoral policies.

The European Space Programme will become a common, inclusive and flexible programmatic basis for the implementation of all space-related activities. It will help to consistently achieve maximum complementarity and transparency among all space programmes.

The EU will take the lead in the strategic programmes for its own policies (in particular GALILEO and GMES), while the ESA will represent Europe on programmes in the areas of science, launchers, technology and human spaceflight.

BACKGROUND

In November 2003, cooperation between the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) was strengthened by the adoption of the EC-ESA framework agreement . This agreement is the follow-up to the publication of the Green Paper and the White Paper on the European Space Policy, which drew on one of the most wide-ranging consultations ever conducted in the field of research and technology.

In May 2005, the Commission set out the preliminary elements of Europe's space policy in a communication (COM(2005) 208). One month later, the Member States responded by presenting guidance at the 'Space Council' (which brought together the EU Competitiveness Council and the Ministerial Council of the ESA) and reaffirming the need to establish a comprehensive European Space Policy. In response, the Commission published this communication which was discussed by the 'Space Council'. The Council also adopted a Resolution on the European Space Policy on 22 May 2007.

Last updated: 25.05.2007
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