Brussels, 07 Mar 2003
'Everybody recognises that if there is one area where Europe can only progress through the pooling of resources, this would be space.' These were the words of former Belgian Prime Minister and Vice President of the European Convention, Jean-Luc Dehaene, speaking at the inaugural conference on the Commission's Green Paper on space on 6 March.
The draft treaty drawn up by the European Convention refers explicitly to space, and none of the 2,000 amendments proposed to the text have thus far related to this section, said Mr Dehaene.
'It is important to recognise at the highest level that space is very important, 'said Mr Dehaene. He added that 'European action [in space] must be strengthened as overall action, not in the pillar style.'
The inclusion of space in the future treaty was supported by EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. 'We need a solid legal basis for space policy and we have to use this opportunity,' said Mr Busquin. He noted that such provisions are supported by both French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
The provisions are clearly supported by European Space Agency Director General Antonio Rodotà, who said that inclusion in the treaty would be a 'central step in the evolution of the sector - a must for us.'
What is envisaged in the treaty is a system of parallel competence, whereby the EU has full competence in the field, but the Member States also retain their level of competence, explained Mr Dehaene.
Some participants were also in favour of a European space policy for security and defence reasons. 'The moment has clearly come to talk about this,' said Mr Busquin. 'Security should not be treated as taboo,' added French MEP and President of the European parliament's sky and space intergroup, Gilles Savary.
'The long term objective must be the participation of all Member States in commonly defined European space capabilities,' said Lieutenant General Marc Vankeirsbilck from the Belgian Defence Staff. He argued that a space policy is essential in order to implement the European security and defence policy (ESDP) and the common foreign and security policy (CFSP).
From an economic perspective, several speakers justified the creation of a European space policy for competition reasons, particularly with regard to launchers and satellites. 'We should go into crisis management phase with regard to launchers, said Mr Savary. 'We had anticipated this, but events have caught up with us.'
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