Enterprise Commissioner Günter Verheugen: The Importance of Space, International Space Conference (link) Brussels, 17 February 2005
I am delighted to welcome you here in Brussels at this International Space Conference. I am pleased that you accepted our invitations. We have the benefit of holding this meeting directly following the successful Global Earth Observation Summit which finished yesterday.
The Summit underlined the need for the broadest international cooperation. At the European Commission, we welcome the setting-up of a joint Secretariat to survey the build-up of GEOSS over the next 10 years and cordially congratulate the Summit for these ambitious and concrete decisions.
The importance of space for the European Union
Last year the European Union undertook its biggest ever enlargement in terms of scope and diversity, leading to a Union of 25 States with over 450 million people.
At the same time the territory of the Union grew to 4 million square kilometres featuring external land borders of some 11.000 km and maritime borders of some 68.000 km.
Further enlargement processes are already underway. This requires reflecting on how to adapt or create the instruments, including space policy.
Space technologies are unique in their capabilities such as their capacity to collect and distribute information at any time and any place for every citizen.
It was therefore a natural consequence that the European Union in the course of its enlargement identified space as one of the critical technologies for the implementation of several of its policies across Europe.
“Space” was explicitly identified in the Constitutional Treaty, recognising that it represents a critical issue for the European Union, for its society, its economy and its global role in the world.
This will also have a direct impact on the European efforts in space exploration.
The President of the new Commission transferred the space dossier into my field of responsibility of “Industry and Enterprise” from its previous home under “Research and Development” activities.
With this reorganisation, the new Commission emphasises that space
- is an area which goes beyond research;
- is to become an integral part of the Lisbon-strategy;
- has an important industrial dimension, with the space industry representing a strategic sector at the beginning of an important macro-economic value-chain;
- is linked to security and security related research.
Hence, Europe is in the process of reorganising and focusing its space efforts, with the European Union, the European Space Agency and Member States closely working together.
We have to optimise our organisation and maximise the value of our various contributions. We should increase the transparency between all actors involved. The European Union, the European Space Agency and the Member States should be fully complementary and optimise their relations and respective resources.
Space for prosperity and growth
Three weeks ago the President of the Commission presented the strategic objectives of the Union until 2010. This was followed a few days later by the Commission’s launch of an ambitious growth and jobs strategy for the Union.