European Space Policy (Extract from Background on the Competitiveness Council of 13 May)

May 9, 2003

Brussels, 08 May 2003

In response to the Commission's Green paper on European space policy, submitted to the Competitiveness Council of last 3 March, the Council is now expected to adopt a Resolution on the development of an overall European space policy.

The Council Resolution will notably emphasise the urgency of concrete action at European level and underline the importance of international co-operation in space, bearing also in mind the emergence of several new space powers, and invite the Commission, in co-operation with ESA, to step up its efforts to promote co-operation in this field.

The Green paper prepared by the Commission in co-operation with the European Space Agency (ESA) is aimed at initiating a debate on the medium- and long-term future use of space for the benefit of Europe and on policy options available. It first of all reviews the fundamental issues which underpin the European space activity (Chapter I); afterwards, it illustrates the considerable potential afforded to the benefit of the citizens and the policies of the Union (Chapter II); it is completed by an examination of certain institutional and regulatory aspects, and of the organisational consequences to be drawn (Chapter III).

A wide-ranging public consultation on all aspects of European space policy will end on 30 May 2003. The response of interested parties to the questions raised will subsequently make it possible to draw up an action plan ("White Paper") which is expected before the end of 2003. The Council will proceed to an exchange of views on the industrial and market situation of European defence equipment industry. The discussion is based on the recently published Commission's communication "Towards an EU Defence Equipment policy" ( COM(2003) 113 final).

In its communication, the Commission pleads for a more co-ordinated EU defence equipment policy, which would complement national policies just as ESDP complements national defence policies and NATO. The communication is aimed at improving the quality of the EU regulatory framework governing the treatment of armaments in Europe. The proposals for action are intended to encourage industrial restructuring and consolidation, to promote the establishment of a European defence equipment market and to enhance competitiveness of the European industry, and to achieve broader socio-economic objectives.

The Council is expected to take conclusion of rather procedural nature taking note of the Commission's intention to further develop the initiatives identified in pursuit of the proposed objectives and announcing to examine in its appropriate bodies the specific issues raised. The Council notably will invite the Commission to report on progress made towards the achievement of the objectives by the end of 2003.

Press Release: Brussels (8/5/2003)

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