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European Research Area and European Space Policy


The Treaty of Lisbon strengthens European Union (EU) action in the field of research. It sets the objective of creating a genuine European Research Area. In addition, the Treaty of Lisbon creates a legal basis enabling the EU to conduct a European Space Policy.

The field of research has particular importance in the EU. It was already at the heart of the Lisbon Strategy (2000). The new Europe 2020 strategy continues in this vein and sets the objective of making the EU a smart economy based on the development of knowledge and innovation. Research and technological development are essential fields in achieving this objective.


The Treaty of Lisbon introduces a legal basis for the creation of a European Research Area. Such an area is intended to permit, in particular, the free movement of researchers, scientific knowledge and technologies. To this end, the EU encourages the removal of fiscal and legal obstacles to cooperation in the field of research.

The Treaty of Lisbon also authorises the Council and the Parliament to take all measures necessary for the creation of the European Research Area. The two institutions adopt these measures in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.

The Council and the Parliament must therefore adopt a multiannual framework programme for the funding of all European projects in the field of research. This framework programme is adopted in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure. The budget for the Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013) is EUR 50.5 billion, attesting to the importance attached to research in the EU. Moreover, it is the world’s largest international research programme.

Finally, in the field of research there is a special distribution of competences between the EU and Member States. According to Article 4 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, the EU and the Member States have shared competence in the field of research and space. However, and contrary to the basic rule governing shared competence, the exercise of the EU’s competence does not limit the competence of Member States, which may therefore take action on their own account.


The Treaty of Lisbon introduces a new article permitting a European space policy (Article 189 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU) to be drawn up. The main objectives of the space policy are to promote scientific and technical progress and industrial competitiveness.

The European space policy therefore includes activities in the areas of research, technological development, and the exploration and exploitation of space. In accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, the Council and the European Parliament may establish a space programme covering the measures taken in these areas.

Moreover, the European space policy is broadly linked with the activities of the European Space Agency. This Agency is an international organisation which is completely independent of the EU. Its main mission is to draw up and implement common programmes in order to develop cooperation between EU Member States in the field of space.

The Treaty of Lisbon therefore confirms the cooperation between the EU and the European Space Agency. This cooperation is based on a framework agreement which entered into force in May 2004. This framework agreement led in particular to the creation of a Space Council bringing together representatives of the Council of the EU and the Council of the European Space Agency.

Last updated: 12.05.2010
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