Brussels, 23 Jan 2004
Guido BODRATO (EPP-ED, I) highlights the benefits of space exploration for the Industry Committee's draft resolution on the Commission's action plan for implementing European Space Policy. The draft resolution is based on an oral question to the Commission. The oral question is also in the names of Gilles SAVARY (F), on behalf of the PSE Group, Nick CLEGG (East Midlands), on behalf of the ELDR Group, Konstantinos ALYSSANDRAKIS (GR), on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group, Yves PIÃ‰TRASANTA (F), on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group.In the draft resolution, MEPs underline that European space policy plays a key role in contributing to several European Union policies including: research, safety and security, telecommunications, transport, environmental protection, agriculture, the management of water resources, early-warning systems in the event of floods and forest fires and earthquake risk reduction. According to the Commission's White Paper, implementation of a European Space Policy is set to come in two phases. The first (2004-2007) will consist of implementing the activities covered by the recently agreed Framework Agreement between the European Community and European Space Agency (ESA). The second (2007 onwards) is due to start after the entry into force of the EU Constitutional Treaty, which is expected to establish space exploration as a shared policy between the EU and its Member States.
As to financing of European space policy, MEPs consider that pooling resources and sharing investments is the most sensible way to proceed, while recognising that the long-term objectives can be achieved only on the basis of Community projects, which require steady increases in the funding for the Community space budget. However, MEPs do recognise the need for a more flexible and efficient system to enable the returns to be reaped on an equitable geographical basis among the various EU Member States. The committee also states that the national space industries should continue to participate in "appropriate and reliable ways" in the market, without giving rise to unnecessary duplication of effort.
The Industry Committee emphasises the huge importance of the Galileo project, which was launched under the aegis of the European Union and is jointly financed with the ESA. MEPs call on the Commission and the Council, when setting up the supervisory authority for Galileo, to provide for efficient structures to ensure the transparency, smooth operation and safety of the system.
The committee also welcomes the participation of China in the Galileo programme. Given the USA's recent announcements on its new space strategy, including a return to the moon and missions to Mars, MEPs urge the Commission to define what role and importance it assigns to the International Space Station.
There is also a welcome for the Franco-Russian agreement of November 2003 concerning the setting up of a Soyuz launcher at Kourou in French Guyana, with a view to widening the range of European launchers and preparing for the possibility of future manned European flights.
Lastly, the committee calls for the European astronaut corps based in Cologne to be opened to future astronauts from the new Member States with a view to their taking part in manned space missions, with specific financial support from the European Union if necessary.
Guido BODRATO (EPP-ED, I), Gilles SAVARY (PES, F), Nick CLEGG (ELDR, East Midlands), Konstantinos ALYSSANDRAKIS (EUL/NGL, GR) & Yves PIÃ‰TRASANTA (Greens/EFA, F)
Oral question on the White Paper on European Space Policy