EU and Russia advance space co-operation agenda

March 20, 2003

Brussels, 19 March 2003

Today in Brussels European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin met Mr Yuri Koptev, Director-General of Rosaviakosmos, the Russian Space Agency. They discussed current and future progress in Euro-Russian co-operation in space, within the "Space Partnership". They addressed the need for common research on the EU Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES) satellite programme, on launchers and on the satellite positioning systems GALILEO and GLONASS. The Green Paper on European Space Policy, elaborated jointly by the European Commission and the European Space Agency, was also on the agenda. Moreover, Russia can now participate in EU projects as a full and equal partner under the EU 6 th Research Framework Programme (2003-2006). Commissioner Busquin and Mr Koptev discussed opportunities for joint research projects in the space field. They exchanged views on long-term issues such as the joint exploration of the solar system and new spaceship engines.

"Both the EU and Russia stand to gain a lot from co-operation in space: it is a strategic choice for industrial competitiveness in both our countries", said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. "The European Union should aim to achieve autonomy in the area of space. Russians remain unsurpassed in this field and their experience is invaluable to us. At the same time, Europe has extensive know-how in technology transfer, turning technologies developed for space into non-space-based industrial and commercial applications. I look forward to stepping up our joint efforts within the EU-Russia Space Partnership, a long-term technological and industrial engagement and a shared dream to reach for the stars together, an inspiring example for our youngest generation."

Strengthening already existing bonds

EU-Russia co-operation in space is not an entirely new development. Since 1997, efforts have been carried out under the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation, including the "Space Partnership". This partnership is being promoted at the highest level, as underlined by the joint EU-Russia statement on space co-operation issued in May 2002, and signed by Russia's President Vladimir Putin, then European Council President José Maria Aznar, and Commission President Romano Prodi.

Green Paper on European Space Policy: reinforcing the international dimension

The Green Paper on European Space Policy, presented in January 2003 by the European Commission and ESA, stresses the key role of both international co-operation and independent access to space if Europe is to benefit from the vast strategic, scientific and commercial benefits of a dynamic space programme. The EU sees Russia as a key partner for the future. Commissioner Busquin therefore invited the Russian Federation to take part in the Green Paper consultation, which will lead to the presentation of a White Paper with a detailed Action Plan later this year.

The Space Partnership

The primary goal of today's meeting was to define the next steps in the implementation of the "Space partnership" agreement. On the agenda were three areas of immediate mutual interest highlighted in January 2003 at the Euro-Russian Workshop in Moscow: Galileo and GLONASS, launchers and GMES.

Galileo and GLONASS

Negotiations to ensure the compatibility of the European and Russian satellite navigation systems (GALILEO and GLONASS) are well underway, in view of developing a new common standard. Positioning, navigation and timing signals delivered by satellite navigation constellations can provide positioning and other services of considerable strategic significance and commercial potential.


Long-term co-operation in the sector of space launchers, which are essential for maintaining autonomous access to space, is a priority. In that respect, the EU, together with ESA, is exploring ways to jointly develop technologies for the next space transportation system, including reusable launchers and new propulsion systems.

Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES)

Mr Busquin and Mr Koptev also assessed recent developments on the space scene worldwide and exchanged views on longer term prospects. GMES is an EU initiative in the field of Earth observation, covering areas such as environmental protection, global change, sustainable development, humanitarian aid, conflict prevention and crisis management. As environmental and security monitoring have a global scope, GMES represents a promising area for collaboration between the EU and Russia.

Commissioner Busquin invited the Russian Federation to participate in the GMES Steering Committee (1) , while Russia offered to make available data from its Earth Observation satellites. Mr. Busquin also invited the Russians to join the EU's Task Force set up to prepare for the Earth Observation Summit which will take place in the United States in June 2003.

A shared long-term vision

Europe and Russia could now define a shared long-term vision for working together on topics such as exploration of the solar system, and new space transport and propulsion systems. A conference on international co-operation in space will be organised by the Commission and the forthcoming Italian Presidency in the second half of 2003. The Commission looks forward to seeing Russia play an active part in this conference, defining along with Europe and the other space powers the best opportunities for co-operation in large international programmes.

For further information please visit:
(1) The GMES Steering Committee is composed of representatives of Member States, associated states and observers from European Organisations, who provide guidance for the GMES initiative.

DN: IP/03/413 Date: 19/03/2003

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