Brussels, 19 June 2003
With this Green Paper the Commission has opened a broad debate on European Space Policy and its future, at a time when the European space industry faces a more difficult situation than in the past owing to greater competitive pressure, shrinking telecommunications markets and factors peculiar to the development of our space industry, which is based primarily on civil and commercial activity; more generally, space is a high-risk and commercially fragile sector, even though the potential of its applications is still expanding. Long-term economic returns do exist, in non-commercial, non-competitive public service sectors, such as weather forecasting and earth observation from space. In addition there are real economic benefits for the commercial sector (fishing, transport, agriculture and tourism), but they are indirect and for the common good.
The European Economic and Social Committee considers that Europe's position in the space sector will depend on the strength of its political commitment and the clarity of its budget decisions. The introduction of a shared and/or parallel competence for the space sector in the future European constitutional treaty would provide the European Union with the political, legislative and financial means to define and implement a strong space policy, which will have to, inter alia:
guarantee autonomous access to space for Europe;