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Brussels, 16 September 2008

Kopernikus: Observing our planet for a safer world

Kopernikus is the new name of the European Commission’s earth observation activities previously known as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) so far. The name Kopernikus was announced by Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, today at a dedicated conference in Lille, organised in cooperation with the French presidency of the EU. The objective of Kopernikus is to monitor the state of the environment on land, at sea and in the atmosphere and to improve the security of the citizens in a world facing an increased risk of natural and other disasters.

Vice-President Günter Verheugen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, said:" Today we honour a great European – Nikolaus Kopernikus- by dedicating his name to our European project for Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, formerly known as GMES. As Kopernikus was decisive to better understand our world, the monitoring will help us to save our planet. This is also a very concrete demonstration of the technological capacity and expertise of Europe's space industry"

Information gathered and relayed by Kopernikus helps to improve the management of our natural resources, monitor the quality of our waters and air, plan our cities and prevent urban sprawl, ease the flow of transportation, optimise our agricultural activities and promote renewable energy. Furthermore, Kopernikus will enhance people’s safety in numerous ways, for example by providing early warnings of natural disasters, thereby helping prevent loss of life and damage to property. It also will provide a basis of enhanced modelling activities to help us better to understand the drivers of climate change.

Kopernikus will use terrestrial, maritime and atmosphere networks and satellites to observe the environment and the natural phenomena occurring on the planet. Kopernikus does not replace existing European capacities, but rather complements them with a view to fulfilling user needs and guaranteeing sustainability and European autonomy in the long term. The initiative has been called Kopernikus in memory of the famous astronomer who greatly advanced the science of his time. Nikolaus Kopernikus was a true European as his family was partly German and partly Polish. He wrote in Latin and German and studied and worked in different countries in Europe.

Further information on Kopernikus initiative can be found at and, and MEMO/08/566

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