Europeans Say Yes! to a strong Europe in Space

June 25, 2003

Brussels, 24 June 2003

A four-month consultation on Europe's future in space came to a close in Paris today, with EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, European Space Agency Director General Antonio Rodotà and other leading players in the space sector calling for a significant increase in European efforts in space research and an upgraded institutional framework.

Claudie Haigneré, French Minister for Research and New Technologies, and Letizia Moratti, Italian Minister for Education, Universities and Scientific Research, also attended to propose key measures to drive forward the space ambitions of Europe. Other priorities outlined at the conference included better co-ordination between all sectors at EU and international levels, guaranteed independent access to space for Europe and a flexible system of programme funding.

Participants stressed the need to develop space technology, such as Internet by satellite and security applications. The Conference provided important input for the forthcoming EU White Paper on Space Policy, due to be published by the European Commission in October 2003.

Philippe Busquin said: "The consultation was a successful exercise in democracy and collective creativity. People expect the EU to play a greater role in space, and we must be ready to meet those expectations. We will build on the lessons learnt from the consultation to devise an ambitious action plan for European space policy. With a strong political commitment from all key space stakeholders and a continued interest of public opinion, we can turn Europe into the space leader of the 21 st century."

Claudie Haigneré declared: "I welcome the remarkable work undertaken by the European Commission and the ESA. Thanks to this wide-ranging debate on our future ambitions, we have established shared views on the current situation and a mutual recognition of the strategic importance of Space for Europe. This exercise comes at the same time as the Convention's work on a new treaty for the European Union, and provides us with the opportunity of proposing a space competence for the EU. We wholeheartedly support this initiative which should enable us to contribute significantly to developing Europe's future in space. Our ambition is considerable: we must re-establish the importance of space at the European level to build a stronger Europe ever closer to its citizens."

Antonio Rodotà added: "We are pleased with the quality and quantity of the contributions to the consultation: this shows there is a real interest for an upgraded role of Europe in space, not only within the scientific and business communities, but also in public opinion at large. ESA will therefore work with the Commission and other space sector players to raise the profile of space in Europe and help set a true agenda for the future of space policy."

A wide consultation

The Paris Conference was also attended by Mr Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director-General elect of ESA, who will take office on 1 July 2003, Carl Bildt, Former Prime Minister of Sweden, and by Mr Herbert Diehl, Director General of the German Ministry for Education and Research. Some European astronauts were also present.

Participants included over 400 representatives from government, industry, research and civil society, provided an opportunity to draw key lessons from the several thousand contributions to the consultation process. It also helped to define priorities for action, and determine specific measures needed to reinforce Europe's role in the space sector and maximise the use of space for the benefit of European citizens. These actions will be the subject of an EU White Paper to be published by the end of 2003.

The economic picture

The economic implications of Space activities cannot be ignored. According to the US Department of Defence, by 2010 more than 2000 satellites will orbit the Earth compared to 600 today. During this same period, US investment will total some 500 billion dollars. In Europe, it is estimated that by 2010 the space industry and its related activities could represent around 10% of GDP. However European funding for space research and development is six times less than in the US, where NASA and the Department for Defence contribute the majority of financial support.

A new era for Europe in Space

The Green Paper on European Space Policy, adopted by the European Commission on 21 January 2003, is a strategic document developed in co-operation with the European Space Agency, which opens a new era for Europe in space. Its aim was to initiate a broad debate on the medium- and long-term future use of space for the benefit of Europe. On 13 May, EU Competitiveness Ministers adopted a resolution for a rapid conclusion of a framework agreement between ESA and the European Commission and for urgent actions to be taken at the EU level to answer the challenges faced by Europe's space sector. On 15 May, the European Parliament adopted a similar resolution, insisting that space be a shared competence in the new EU Treaty.

On May, the ESA ministerial meeting, addressing a series of key issues including the future of the Ariane launcher and of the Galileo satellite positioning system, also adopted a resolution reaffirming the commitment of ESA to enhanced co-operation with the EU, taking into account the distinct missions and institutional basis of the two organisations and with due regard to their complementarity. Earlier in June, the draft EU Constitution confirmed that space would be one of the new competencies of the European Union.

From Brussels to Paris: giving Europeans a voice in space

The Green Paper consultation encompassed a series of events, workshops and meetings spanning the continent and drawing considerable public interest. Following the opening conference in Brussels, the Madrid meeting focussed on the contribution of the industrial sector. The Berlin workshop brought the scientific community together.

Participants in Rome addressed challenging institutional issues, while London and Prague featured debates on applications and the role of international co-operation, respectively. Additional events were held in Lisbon, Athens and Vienna. Hi-level bilateral consultations also took place and many organisations responded directly to the Commission. Finally, individual citizens were invited to post their views via the Internet.

What are space stakeholders calling for?

The consultation drew wide-ranging contributions from across Europe. Through an open, transparent and democratic debate, a broad consensus on a certain number of key actions is taking shape. During the consultation, space sector players addressed a series of options, including:

  • Upgrading the space policy institutional framework, possibly by creating a Council of Space Ministers;

  • Using the same satellite systems for both civil and defence security purposes (multiple-use systems);

  • An institutional market which recognises space potential in addressing civil policy objectives such as communication and navigation;

  • Independent, reliable and affordable access to space through the European Guaranteed Access to Space (EGAS) programme;

  • The need for a European Security and Defence Agency;

  • Improved career prospects, training and development for people working in space research and technology;

  • A doubling of funding for European research;

  • Harmonising data collection and processing at a European level, with the Commission supporting a powerful data processing system for climate forecasts and global-change monitoring;

  • Establishing the International Space Station as a base for microgravity research;

  • Further support for ESA's Aurora programme, which seeks, inter alia, to put a human on Mars within the next 30 years;

  • Developing space applications to underpin technological and scientific development and the security of citizens;

  • Developing a programme to achieve seamless broadband communications for everyone in Europe; and

  • Supporting the enlargement process and European integration through satellite technologies and shared policy objectives.
Next steps

The following events will drive forward Europe's space policy:

  • July 2003: a summary report on the consultation process from the EU/ESA Joint Task Force will be published

  • September 2003: The European Parliament will contribute their views to the Green Paper process.

  • October 2003: The Commission is expected to release the White Paper on European Space Policy, with subsequent submission to the Council and Parliament. The 'White Paper' will include an action plan setting out a future strategy for space activities within the European Union. It will acknowledge the contributions received, and include proposals for the content, organisation and level of future European space activities.

  • November 2003: The White Paper is on the agenda to be discussed by the Council of the European Union at the Competitiveness Council under the Italian Presidency.
For more information on the Green Paper, the consultation and its preliminary conclusions please visit:

DN: IP/03/880 Date: 24/06/2003

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