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MEMO/04/137

Brussels, 7 June 2004

Space: for a more competitive and secure Europe
Space and European Security

In a January 2003 Resolution, the European Parliament asked the European Commission to deliver a White Paper on European Space Policy. The Green Paper that followed laid out a number of relevant issues and called for a comprehensive consultation on the subject. The subsequent series of workshops included a joint Greek Presidency/EU event in May 2003 specifically dedicated to the security and defence issue.

Based on the results of the Space Green Paper consultation, the European Commission adopted the White Paper on European Space Policy in November 2003. In Chapter 3.4, entitled “Space as a contribution to the CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy), the ESDP (European Security and Defence Policy) and to the anticipation and monitoring of humanitarian crises”, the Commission urges the reinforcement of space technologies in support of security and defence policy requirements. This is to be done by both boosting existing space-based security capabilities and developing new ones.

A new EU Security Research initiative

Security is an evolving concept, representing challenges for the enlarged EU of25 Members in a wide range of policy areas. The European security strategy ‘A secure Europe in a better world’[1], endorsed by the European Council in December 2003 outlines global challenges and key threats. Among these are terrorism, organized crime, natural disasters and fighting diseases.

The EU Communication, entitled ‘Towards a programme to advance European security through research and technology’, explains why security research needs to be co-ordinated at the EU level. Significantly, it earmarks €65 million for the Preparatory Action on Security Research (PASR) (2004-2006), which will lead to a full European Security Research Programme starting in 2007.

The PASR Information Day, held in Brussels on 25 March 2004, attracted more than 400 participants from research and academic institutions and industry. Many of the attendees represented groups from the space and aeronautics sectors.

Space and Security interlinked

The interest in Security Research among the aerospace community comes as no surprise. The ‘Group of Personalities in the field of Security Research’, whose Report ‘Research for a Secure Europe’, argues for the establishment of a major European Security Research Programme (ESRP), and includes members representing a number of important space interests.

Space technologies and infrastructures are undoubtedly crucial to any credible and effective security policy. Today, most security-related information comes from satellites operated within national or bilateral or intergovernmental frameworks. Any security policy will require permanent access to suitable space-based systems and services because of their strategic capabilities.

The distinction between defence-related and civil research no longer makes sense. Earth observation (EO) satellites, for instance, have obvious applications in both areas. The Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES) programme, developing EO technologies, will be of great importance in both the civil and security realms. GALILEO is another space technology with a great potential security impact. Most programmes now on the way promise multiple-use capabilities.

The objectives of the “Panel of Experts on Space and Security” are to:

  • Review the role of Space in meeting the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the European Security and Defence Policy (CFSP)/ (ESDP).
  • Consider options for identifying, maintaining and updating the operational requirements for pan-European space and security capabilities.
  • Identify and call for input from the main groups actively looking at operational requirements across Europe.
  • Assess the available information on the capability gap that exists in Europe today for Space-based security services.
  • Identify priority areas and options for a preparatory action plan for a future European Space-based capabilities programme.
  • Make recommendations about the institutional options necessary for long- term management of such programmes.
  • Assess the potential funding scenarios necessary to ensure that the appropriate level of resources is available to meet primary programme needs.
  • Identify the required space technological, legal and institutional requirements to be in place among the relevant European players.
  • Determine how to contribute to the EU global response to security issues: fight against international terrorist groups and criminal organizations, control of EU external borders, fight against drug trafficking...

The EC/ESA Framework Agreement

The European Community (EC) and ESA signed a co-operation agreement, which entered into force on 28 May 2004. The EC and ESA now have a legal basis to launch and fund joint projects, participate in each other’s schemes, create common management agencies, carry out studies and jointly organise conferences and training for scientists, exchange and share experts, equipment and materials and access to facilities.

EC/ESA co-operation will focus on:

Securing Europe’s independent and cost-effective access to space for the use and application of space technologies;

Ensuring that Space contributes to implementing EU policies, in particular as a support for sustainable development, economic growth and employment;

Combining the currently dispersed know-how available in achieving greater coherence and synergy, namely through a network of technical centres.

Specifically, the Framework Agreement identifies eight fields of co-operation:

  1. science
  2. technology
  3. earth observation
  4. navigation
  5. communication by satellite
  6. human space flight and micro-gravity
  7. launchers
  8. spectrum policy related to space

The Agreement also sets out the principles for EC/ESA co-operation, and provides guidelines for joint initiatives, co-operation with non-European countries, exchange of personnel, settlement of disputes, and means for addressing other issues relating to joint activities.


[1] European Council, Thessaloniki, 20/06/03


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