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Antonio Tajani

Vice President of the European Commission

The Use of Space – the European Point of View

4th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference
Tel Aviv, 28 January 2009

Mr President, Ministers, General Agmon,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for the invitation to this conference.

It is a great pleasure for me to speak about EU space policy and the Galileo project in particular in front of this distinguished audience.

I want to share with you three aspects of current European thinking about space: the policy dimension, program dimension and Israel-EU cooperation in space.

Space is an important dimension of European Union policy. Space has matured into a topic that the European Commission and the member states of the EU have decided to work on together.

We no longer see it as a matter for research only. It is for us a tool of social and economic cohesion. It generates jobs, innovation and security.

The dependency of developed economies on space applications is a fact.

We are used to satellite TV and satellite maps on weather forecasts.

Yet, how many citizens know about the dependency of our computer networks on navigation satellites 20 000 km above our heads?

Indeed, my credit card won't work today without GPS.

For several years now space has been a policy sector on its own right with objectives, budgets and decision-making structures in the EU.

The European space policy, by exploiting peacefully outer space, seeks to achieve a number of objectives:

  • Developing and exploiting space applications serving Europe's public policy objectives and the needs of European enterprises and citizens, including in the areas of environmental protection, development and the fight against climate change;
  • Meeting Europe's security and defence needs as regards space;
  • Supporting a strong and competitive space industry;
  • Contributing to the knowledge-based society;
  • Securing unrestricted access to new and critical technologies, systems and capabilities.

Achieving this strategic mission will require that the EU, the European Space Agency and Member States improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their space activities. Significant new steps must be taken in:

  • Establishing a European Space Programme and the coordination of national and European level space activities.
  • Increasing synergies between defence and civil space programmes and technologies
  • Developing a joint strategy on international relations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

From policy let me now turn to programs.

The space sector is a 90 billion Euro world market, growing at the rate of 7 % per annum.

How does the government best secure the maximum political, economic and social return from investment of tax money in space technologies?

We believe that the development and exploitation of space applications are key in this respect.

Until recently the European aerospace sector was best known for projects such as Ariane and Airbus. These successes were conceived by groups of EU member states in different configurations.

Two European flagship projects involving the entire EU – thus with a truly European dimension - have changed this: Galileo in satellite navigation and GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) in earth observation for environment and security purposes. I will concentrate today on Galileo, the project I am responsible for within the European Commission.

Building a satellite navigation system is a major technological, political, industrial and economic challenge, a project that the EU has pursued since the early 90ies.

GALILEO is the first global satellite navigation system designed specifically to meet needs of civil users. We chose to focus on this "niche" whose users outnumber those in defence by a factor of 100. Our engineers work ambitiously on concepts such as service continuity, availability and tailoring of services to different users.

Last July we reformed the financing and governance of Galileo. We have secured a budget of 3.4 billion € to complete the system by 2013. In this context the Commission took the lead as program manager. The European Space Agency assists us in technical issues and the procurement of the system which is currently underway.

The first test satellites are working well and the next ones are planned for launch from 2010 onwards.

Let me also mention EGNOS, the regional satellite navigation system and precursor of Galileo. This system is ready from a technical point of view and is operating perfectly on test mode. Negotiations with potential private sector operators of EGNOS are progressing and the goal is to declare the service operational in a matter of months.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The last points I want to raise our excellent cooperation with Israel on satellite navigation.

Israel is our valued partner in Galileo since 2004. In July of that year the then Minister Olmert signed with his European counterparts a "Cooperation Agreement on a Civil Global Navigation Satellite System".

This document paved the way for cooperation on civil satellite navigation and timing in sectors ranging from science, manufacturing to standardisation and regional infrastructures.

A year later we welcomed Israel in the Galileo Joint Undertaking as a full member in Galileo development. Thanks to this we have today bilateral projects underway that may bring Israeli technology to the Galileo under construction.

This brings me to my two last points; research and procurement.

Israel is in a promising position in both these fields. Israeli organisations have the opportunity to participate in Galileo calls launched under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. Moreover, Israeli entities are entitled to participate as procurement subcontractors in non-sensitive areas of the project.

Procurement is progressing as planned. The European Space Agency is currently discussing with the potential prime contractors the closer definition of the works to be undertaken. The next major step will be the final offers later in 2009.

Before ending, I would like to summarize my message:

The EU has now a Common Space Policy. It focuses on space applications, as a means to achieve public policy objectives for the benefit of its industries and citizens.

Galileo and EGNOS in satellite navigation and GMES in earth observation are the first EU-wide projects implementing this policy.

Israel and the EU have been cooperating closely on Galileo since 2004. The future provides excellent opportunities for your country, both in research and in procurement.

Thank you for your attention

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