Brussels, 21 Jan 2004
The European Parliament's committee on industry, external trade, research and energy (ITRE) has called on Member States and the Commission to increase national and Community support for a European space programme.
The plea was contained in a resolution adopted on 20 January by the ITRE committee relating to the Commission's action plan for implementing the European Space Policy.
The importance of space policy is underlined by the key role it plays in contributing to other areas of Union policy, such as research, safety and security, telecommunications, transport and environmental protection, MEPs stressed.
The resolution states that any European Space Policy 'must include the strengthening of national commitments in support of the programmes already begun (particularly through ESA [the European Space Agency]) and increased Community commitment, partly with a view to advancing in the exploration of space.'
The committee considers that pooling resources and sharing investments is 'the most sensible way forward', but stressed that long term progress can only be achieved on the basis of Community projects. To that end, MEPs called for earmarked finances for space in future research Framework Programmes.
MEPs also emphasised the 'huge importance' of the Galileo satellite navigation project, and welcomed the participation of China in the programme. They added that the Commission and Council, when setting up the supervisory body for Galileo, should 'provide for efficient structures to ensure the transparency, smooth operation and safety of the system.'
In the context of the United States' revised space strategy outlined by President George Bush, the ITRE committee considers it essential to cement and extend the EU's traditional cooperation with the US. It also supported the role of the international space station (ISS) as the world's first common infrastructure in space.
Other priorities identified in the resolution include the prompt launch of the global monitoring for environment and security (GMES), the use of broadband satellite technologies to bridge the digital divide, and ensuring the maintenance of the Ariane 5 programme and the launcher site at Kourou, French Guyana.
The resolution will be put before a full Parliamentary plenary session in Brussels on 29 January, after which, if adopted, it will be forwarded to the Commission, Council and Member States.
For further information on the EU's space policy, please consult the following web address: