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European Commission

Press Memo

Brussels, 25 September 2012

EU activity in space: Europeans are aware and positive

The objective of this Eurobarometer survey was to gain insight into Europeans' awareness, expectations and wishes regarding space based services and their opinion on the role of the EU in the development of space activities.

What exactly does the EU do in space?

The European space policy activities focus on the following:

  • Galileo, the European satellite navigation system;

  • GMES (Global monitoring for Environment and Security);

  • Supporting the emergence of Space Surveillance and Tracking in close co-operation with Member States to help protect space infrastructures;

  • Space exploration and

  • Development of an industrial space policy.

Galileo will be Europe's own global navigation satellite system, providing a highly accurate, global positioning service under civil control. The launch of the first fully operational Galileo satellites took place on 21 October 2011; the full Galileo system will include 30 satellites. Early Galileo Services will be made available gradually from 2014 onwards. The service used most by the general public (personal navigation), will be free of charge.

GMES is a European system for monitoring the state of the Earth providing continuous accurate and reliable data and information in six main fields: marine environment, land, atmosphere, emergency management, security and climate change monitoring. GMES uses satellites to obtain data and images. It can yield a better understanding of changes on our planet and how that might influence our daily lives. It will also provide services to help improving the security of citizens and manage crisis situations.

The European Commission adopted a Communication "Towards a space strategy for the European Union that benefits its citizens" on 4th April 2011, reflecting the crucial role of space for the economy and society.

Why is space activity important?

More than 30 000 applications dependent on space technologies allow us to optimize transport, increase efficiency in agriculture or fishing, protect the environment and improve safety.

The large majority of Europeans (81%), as well as an absolute majority of respondents in every single Member State, believe space derived services and space technologies are important for the development of innovative terrestrial applications, such as remote medical assistance.

How aware are EU citizens of the EU's activities in space?

For Galileo, the European GPS system, public awareness is 57% in average, while in 2007 it was 40%. For the Global monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme the awareness is 38% whereas it was only 22% in 2009.

To promote awareness of EU space activity and the useful day–to-day application of space derived products and services, a European Space Exposition is visiting Brussels from September 26 to October 11. Following a successful trip to Helsinki with almost 23 000 visitors, the Expo dome is now being installed at the Toison d'Or in Brussels's centre. This travelling exhibition explains the direct impact of space related activities on jobs. Visitors can see and test the wide range of technologies and innovative services that space offers. Experts will be also present to explain specific topics in detail.

Are EU citizens positive about the EU's activities in space?

Europeans are very positive about space activities in general. 81% believe that space derived services and space technologies are important for the development of innovative terrestrial applications. This figure was 74% in 2009. This is confirmed by the fact that 76% say that space services are important for industrial competiveness, growth and creation of jobs in the EU (as opposed to 64% at the beginning of the crisis in 2009).

Many citizens find GPS navigation services useful

Half of Europeans use at least one navigation system (50%) while 41% do not use one and are not planning to acquire one.

The top three navigation-based services, cited by an absolute majority of Europeans, have safety in common:

  • search and rescue operations of stranded people (60%);

  • help people with disabilities (59%) and

  • real-time information about dangerous situations on the road (53%).

What would EU citizens like the EU to do in space?

The interviewees were informed that space can contribute to a wide range of activities and they were presented with seven options; then they were asked to choose two options that they would like the European space activity to focus on as a priority. The options chosen most often are health improvement (36%) and climate change understanding (33%).

Should space actions be taken by the EU, by Member States or by both together?

The majority of Europeans wants the EU to play a role in the following themes:

  • A space monitoring system to manage disasters and crisis as well as mitigate the effects of climate change (77%)

  • A space monitoring system to detect satellites and space debris and prevent their collision (74%)

Survey respondents were also asked by whom they think space activities should be developed: each EU country who wishes so; the EU alone for all Member States; the EU together with the Member States; neither the EU nor the Member States should develop it at all. Development by the EU should be carried out together with Member States, say the majority of Europeans.

Out of the 63% who support a space exploration programme with humans or robots, 73% believe the EU should do more in the field of Space Exploration: 32% say yes definitely, and 41% say yes, probably. In 2009 a similar question was asked on Space activities and only 64% of respondents believed that the EU should do more in the field.

For more information about the Survey see:

For more information about space:

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