Brussels, 25 Nov 2004
In the margins of the Council, the first meeting of the "Space Council"1, which is a joint meeting of the Council of the European Union and of the Council of the European Space Agency (ESA) at ministerial level, took place. It was the first opportunity for Ministers representing the European Union and/or European Space Agency Member States to jointly discuss the development of a coherent overall European space programme.
This meeting was jointly chaired by Mr Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst, Dutch Minister for Economic Affairs and current chair of the EU Competitiveness Council, and by Mrs Edelgard Bulmahn, German Minister for Education and Research and current chair of the ESA Council at ministerial level. The meeting was also attended by Mr Günter Verheugen, European Commission Vice President, as responsible for enterprise, industry competitiveness and space matters and by Mr Jean- Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General representing the European Space Agency.
During the meeting a debate was held among Ministers on policy issues concerning the development of an European Space Programme (ESP) on the basis of a questionnaire drawn up by the two Presidencies concerned (EU and ESA). The questions varied from the scope of a space programme to governance, industry policy principles and possible mechanism's for funding.
In addition, the "Space Council" proposed the first 'orientations' relating to the future development of ESP, which were subsequently endorsed by the Competitiveness in accordance with its Rules of Procedure.
The above mentioned first orientations read as follows:
"First orientations on the preparation of the European Space Programme
1 The Framework Agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency (ESA) entered into force on 28 May 2004. This agreement provides a common basis for the coherent and progressive development of an overall European Space Policy and establishes under Article 8 regular joint and concomitant meetings of the Council of the European Union and of the Council of ESA at ministerial level, the "Space Council", for coordinating and facilitating cooperative activities.
1. Space activities are acknowledged as being of strategic importance for their contribution to the implementation of a wide range of European policies.1
2. It is therefore essential to assess the resources necessary and to utilise the available resources in an efficient and effective way at all levels, so that efforts are complementary and avoid duplication, and so that the offer of space based services and infrastructures meet the demand from users, such as the European Union's policies, the Member States' policies and the European citizens.
3. The specificity of the space sector requires the continued attention of public authorities and the determination of appropriate industrial policy principles to respond to the above.
4. The first joint and concomitant meeting of the Council of the European Union and of the Council of ESA at ministerial level ("Space Council") established under the EC-ESA Framework Agreement was an important opportunity to gather twenty seven States, members of the European Union and members of the European Space Agency, to assess the issues above and to discuss the coherent and progressive development of an overall European Space Policy.
5. The European Space Programme will constitute a common, inclusive and flexible framework on the basis of which activities and measures would be taken by the European Union, the European Space Agency and other stakeholders (e.g. national organisations).
6. It is advisable to start the process of preparing a European Space Programme so as to define its conceptual basis for a "Space Council" session planned for end 2005. This should be without prejudice to the outcome of the on-going discussions of the European Union Financial Perspectives 2007-2013.
7. It is foreseen to hold the second "Space Council" session in Spring 2005 for addressing preliminary elements of the European Space Programme. This second session is expected, in particular to:
- Recognise and identify priorities of the European Space Programme, including estimation of possible costs
- Identify the roles and responsibilities of the EU, ESA and other stakeholders of the European Space Programme as well as the relevant funding sources
- Identify industrial policy principles and funding principles related to the implementation of the European Space Programme