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European Commission - Press release

New Commission space policy puts focus on improving people's daily lives and boosting Europe's competitiveness

Brussels, 26 October 2016

EU space programmes already deliver services that benefit millions of people. The European space industry is strong and competitive, creating jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Today's proposal for a new space policy will foster new services and promote Europe's leadership in space.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said: "The European Union is a key player in space policy. We want to build on that and use this leadership role strategically to create jobs and growth and deliver on our common policy priorities: security,climate change, transport, data economy, management of natural disasters. This requires cooperation with our partners and stakeholders in Europe and internationally. The Joint EU ESA Declaration on our "Shared Vision and Goals for the Future of Europe in Space" to be signed this afternoon is another important step in that direction."

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said Space-based applications are changing our lives, our economy, our industry. Space is a key industrial sector in Europe's economy, and a strategic asset supporting Europe's autonomy of action at the global stage. But it needs more entrepreneurs and more private investment if it is to stay ahead of the curve. My message therefore to industry, start-ups and investors is that space matters and we are in space for the long haul.

EU space programmes already deliver services that have become indispensable in everyone's daily lives. Space data is needed in using mobile phones, driving cars with a navigation system, taking the plane or watching satellite TV. It is also central to the protection of key infrastructures such as power plants, smart grids or even bank transactions. Space data helps to manage borders and save lives at sea. It improves our response to earthquakes, forest fires and floods. It allows farmers to plan ahead. It helps to protect the environment and monitor climate change.

The Space Strategy for Europe responds to growing global competition, increasing private sector involvement and major technological shifts. The Commission proposes a range of actions to allow Europeans to fully seize the benefits offered by space, create the right ecosystem for space start-ups to grow, promote Europe's leadership in space and increase its share on the world space markets.

Making the most of space for our society and economy

Now that the infrastructure of EU space programmes is well advanced, the focus needs to shift to ensuring a strong market uptake of space data by the public and private sector. EU space programmes will deliver additional services which contribute to common European priorities such as security and defence as well as fighting climate change. The Commission will promote the use of Galileo in mobile devices and critical infrastructures and improve connectivity in remote areas. It will make it easier for innovative companies and start-ups to access space data via dedicated industry-led platforms in order to develop services and applications.

Fostering a competitive and innovative European space sector

Europe's space sector needs to stay ahead of fast-moving disruptive innovation, the emergence of new business models and growing global competition. EU funding will be more strongly geared towards space entrepreneurs starting and scaling up across the Single Market. Additionally, the Commission will promote more private investment for such start-ups, in particular in the context of the Investment Plan for Europe and the upcoming Venture Capital Fund of Funds. It will also support the emergence of European industrial space hubs and clusters in European regions.

Maintaining Europe's strategic autonomy, strengthening its global role in space

Europe's autonomous access to and use of space is a strategic element for the implementation of EU policies, our industry and business, as well as our security, defence and strategic autonomy. The EU is the largest European institutional customer and plans to launch more than 30 satellites in the next 10-15 years for its Galileo and Copernicus programmes. This is an opportunity in particular for the economic viability of future European-built launchers such as Ariane 6 and Vega C. The Commission will act as a smart customer and aggregate its launch service needs. It will also continue to support European companies' access to global markets. Building on an existing initiative it will start working on a comprehensive EU Space Situational Awareness Service to protect critical space infrastructures from space debris, space weather and cyberattacks. Through the upcoming European Defence Action Plan, the Commission will also launch a GovSatCom initiative to ensure reliable, secured and cost-effective satellite communication services for EU and national public authorities. Given the need for strong cooperation with our global partners, the Commission will act alongside the High Representative and Member States to promote and preserve the use of space for future generations.

In the afternoon of 26 October, the EU and the European Space Agency will sign a joint declaration to express their joint vision for a European space policy. This is a first of its kind declaration, showing the importance both institution attribute to the close and integrated cooperation in a truly European approach to space. 

Background

Europe as a whole (the Member States, the European Space Agency, EUMETSAT and the EU) is a major global space player. It has a strong and competitive industry, e.g. for satellites, launchers and related services/operations. The European space industry employs over 230 000 professionals and generates a value added estimated at EUR 46-54 billion. Europe is manufacturing a third of the world's satellites. It has achieved many successes in space with breakthrough technologies and exploration missions.

The EU is investing EUR 12 billion over 2014-2020 to develop high quality space projects. Copernicus, a leading provider of Earth observation data across the globe, already helps save lives at sea, improves our response to natural disasters such as earthquakes, forest fires or floods, and allows farmers to better manage their crops. Galileo, Europe's own global satellite navigation system, will soon provide more accurate and reliable positioning and timing information for autonomous and connected cars, railways, aviation and other sectors. The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) provides safety of life navigation services to aviation, maritime and land-based users over most of Europe.

A number of innovative start-ups already use satellite data for example to enable farmers to monitor their fields more efficiently (FieldSense, winner of 2014 Copernicus Masters), to use positioning data for applications in the Internet of Things (Geko navsat, winner of 2014 & 2015 GSA prize) or to provide maritime rescue drones (Sincratech, winner of 2015 Satnav prize). 

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