Brussels, 19 Jun 2003
While the European Space Agency (ESA) has suggested that space should not be tied to EU research policy but should be accepted as having a broader policy relevance, the European Science Foundation (ESF) has called for recognition by Europe's policymakers that fundamental research underpins any policy for space.
ESF claim that the European Commission's Green Paper on space, designed to stimulate debate in the build up to the White Paper, does not address space research, which it believes is 'essential for the promotion of European interests and leadership.'
'Some of the questions asked in the Green Paper are not relevant to space research, while other important issues are not addressed at all. [...] Due to this absence [ESF's European space science committee] believes that the forthcoming White Paper should stress clearly, and in a prominent fashion, that the involvement in first class science is absolutely essential for the promotion of European interests and leadership, as it imparts a strong strategic drive to its technological and industrial system, as successfully demonstrated in the case of the USA,' reads an ESF statement.
ESF also calls for an end to reductions in space research budgets which, it claims, 'have become notoriously insufficient to maintain a strong foundation for space activities.'
On the debate concerning institutional roles, the statement argues that the European Commission and ESA have to adopt a 'synergistic approach', ensuring that 'coordination and existing interfaces are improved', and should not seek to redefine institutional responsibilities.
Finally, ESF calls on the Commission to portray space as a long term strategy in the forthcoming White Paper. The time required to acquire knowledge, improve technology and develop applications is substantial and can obscure the link between research and process, say ESF.
The conclusions of the consultation process on the Green Paper will be presented in Paris on 23 and 24 June. For further on ESF, please visit: http://www.esf.org