Brussels, 23 Mar 2005
An expert panel convened by the European Commission has recommended that the security applications of space should be made a priority in the future European Space Programme.
The expert panel was asked to make a preliminary assessment of Europe's security needs from space. The result is concrete recommendations that address, among other areas, the need to overcome fragmentation. The report also identifies threats to security in Europe, and how these can best be addressed at a European level.
'Improving the security of human beings is one of the most important contributions which space technologies and services can offer,' writes Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen in the foreword to the panel's report. The report 'offers a meaningful basis for Europe to move forward into the new era of support for enhanced security by effective usage of the space based capability developed over the last 30 years,' he adds.
In addition to the risk posed by natural disasters, the panel highlights the threats from terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts, state failure and organised crime. 'At the heart of the European Security Strategy is the need to think globally and act locally,' writes the panel.
The policy implications drawn from this strategy necessitate that Europe becomes more active in pursuing strategic objectives; more capable in terms of adapting competence when necessary and pooling assets; more coherent in relation to instruments and capabilities; and more collaboration-oriented. The fragmentation present within the EU in the context of security space applications hampers the sharing of information and effectiveness of operation when joint or combined activities are needed, claims the expert panel.
One of the report's key recommendations concerns the establishment of a platform or forum for consolidating security-related user needs. Such a body should be established immediately, and its tasks should include establishing a network between users, creating a forum for users to express their needs, determining how existing capabilities could have alternative applications to fulfil these needs, translating user needs into requirements, and contributing to proposals for the European Space Programme.
The necessary budget for developing a European space system for security and defence is estimated by EUROSPACE, which was represented in the expert panel. EUROSPACE foresees a need to increase available funds from the 2004 level of one billion euro to around two billion in 2012. The increased funding would be necessary for new technologies such as a new generation of optical and radar observation systems and signal intelligence, and for research on new and advanced applications and technologies, EUROSPACE explains.
To read the report in full, please consult the following web address: