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European Commission Vice President responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Opening of European Space Expo
Hannover Messe / Hannover
8 April 2013
Ladies and gentleman,
It’s a pleasure for me to be here with you today at this at the Hannover Messe, and it’s great to see so many of you in this amazing European Space Expo Dome. This dome has given many people, across Europe, the chance to see some of our achievements in the space sector.
On the multimedia screens you can see our ongoing projects and model satellites of our flagship programs, Galileo and Copernicus.
Space may seem a distant reality, but we only have to look around us to see the benefits it has brought to our daily lives. Images from space are now commonly used in plenty of sectors such as weather forecast, agriculture (smart farming), urban planning, monitoring de-forestation or supporting crisis management in case of flooding or large forest fires.
Space also creates unique opportunities to boost the economic performance of our continent. For one, it drives innovation. We can transfer technology from the space sector and create smart technologies and smart production. Spin-offs create further commercial uses which contribute to industrial growth.
The political and economic 'weight' of the EU in space is growing. The EU is expected to allocate more than €11 billion to space activities over the next seven years; more than double allocated in the last financial period. This figure speaks for itself. In fact, space is one of the few areas where the budget has increased in real terms.
But the EU cannot act alone in exploiting space. We need to share competencies and we need a reinforced partnership with Member States.
I welcome that Member States agreed to put the Copernicus programme back into the Multiannual Financial Framework at the European Council in February.
Copernicus is a strategic programme for the European Union. It supports the EU2020 objectives and also underpins important EU policies. It not only enables informed policy decisions, but is a catalyst for job creation and growth.
The name change, from GMES (The European Earth Observation Programme) to Copernicus, marked its transition to an operational programme. The Emergency and Land services are already up and running/functional and our four other services (Marine, Atmosphere and Climate change monitoring as well as support to (civil) Security management.) will become fully operational by 2014. Today, many public and private organisations already benefit from Copernicus services. Its data is used in the health, energy and sustainable development, agriculture, fisheries and climate change sectors. Satellite imaging has been used in disaster management.
I am also pleased to announce that in the EU research and innovation programme, “Horizon 2020”, space research will be placed under the Heading "Industrial Leadership". The main objective is to strengthen the competitiveness and innovation potential of the European Space sector.
Also, EU investment in space-based infrastructures like Galileo and Copernicus will open up new opportunities for businesses in Europe. But we need to do more. Without a vibrant space industry in Europe, we will not be able to reap the benefits of our investments. So, on the 28th of February, the Commission adopted the Communication entitled “EU Space Industrial Policy: Releasing the Potential for Growth in the Space Sector”.
At the same time, we need to protect our satellites from damage. Our recently proposed “EU Space surveillance and tracking support programme” will increase the safety of satellite operations. It will help to reduce collision risks and it will keep public authorities better informed on space debris.
Ladies and gentleman, space brings us many benefits and to secure a place on the podium, we have to make the most of what it has to offer.