Brussels, 15 June 2004
The launch of the Preparatory Action on Security Research (PASR2004), earlier this year, effectively eliminates the long-standing and, some would say, largely artificial European distinction between civil and defence research. The new 'Panel of Experts on Space and Security', launched by European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin on 7 June 2004 in Brussels, is now set to tackle the application of space technologies to Europe's security needs.
It is now widely agreed that space-based technologies have a major part to play in ensuring the security of European citizens. The GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) programme is only one example, developing Earth observation technologies of great importance in both civil and defence-related applications. The GALILEO satellite radionavigation programme is another example, but there are a number of other space technologies whose multiple-use nature is also obvious and logical.
In his address to the new Panel, Commissioner Busquin said, "This group has been created as recommended by the White Paper on European Space Policy, following a long consultation process, and we believe that it is high time to consider some very important questions: How many and what kinds of satellites does the EU need? How can the EU maintain access to earth imagery? What are the roles of the different European players and how do we establish working relationships between heretofore-separate civil- and defence-related space sectors? Finally, how do we pay for all this?
"The rising security challenges faced by people around the world today require us to look at these questions and to reconsider Europe's place is space. Indeed, we have a solemn duty to do everything in our power to ensure the safety and security of European citizens and the citizens of the future."
"We have an important and difficult job to do," said European Space Agency (ESA) Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain. "We have the new issue of border control in an enlarged Europe. We have the fight against terrorism. We have crisis management and humanitarian aid. Balancing these priorities will be difficult, but that's what makes this exercise so important.
"The new working relationship between the EU, with its political dimension, and ESA, as technology supplier, is important. Our goal will be to find technically feasible solutions to meet the needs of society.
"This is an important subject for all of us, for every European citizen. Space must be part of the answer to our security challenges."
Background: the White Paper and the Panel of Experts
The White Paper on European Space Policy highlights the strategic importance of space in implementing the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). It specifically recommends the creation of a dedicated working group to deliver a Report on Space and Security issues by the end of 2004.
The delivery of that Report is the new Panel's primary mission. This will include an assessment of needed capabilities, as identified by users, in view of developing a future European Space Programme in 2005.
The Panel heard presentations by a number of Commission representatives, each with his or her own views on priority issues:
- External Relations – According to Michalis Ketselidis, DG RELEX is concerned with the potential impact of space technologies on the comprehensive External Relations Policy;
- Information Society – André Vits said DG INFSO is interested in crisis management and rescue operations;
- Joint Research Centre – the JRC, explained Jean-Paul Malingreau, can help to provide intelligence through information gathering and analysis, as well as analytical chemistry;
- Justice and Home Affairs – DG JAI's Muriel Heller said fighting drug trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism, while upholding human rights, are priorities for her group.
Transport and Energy – Jean Tresour from DG TREN said many of the issues under discussion will impact on transport industry and in particular the operators.
Other contributions came from Luc Tytgat, Head of the EC's Space Unit, which is organising the work of the Panel, Herbert von Bose, Head of Unit for Security Research at DG Research, Fernando Davara of the European Satellite Centre (EUSC) and Yves Blin of the ECAP Space Group. Also on hand were representatives of relevant working groups, the space industry and users' organisations.
Luc Tytgat outlined the Panel's Terms of Reference and work schedule, saying, "We have a lot to do before delivering our report at the end of this year, including a total of four meetings. We will listen very closely to what all of you have to say, with the aim of identifying priority areas and options for a future European space-based security capabilities programme."
Outlining the new PASR2004, von Bose said, "We know that Space can make a major contribution to all of the five priority areas under the Security Preparatory Action:
- Improving situation awareness;
- Optimising security and protection of networked systems;
- Protecting against terrorism;
- Enhancing crisis management;
- Achieving interoperability and integrated systems for information and communication."
Seizing the moment
For Jack Metthey, Director of Space and Transport at DG Research, now is the time to move forward on all fronts. "The population of Europe now stands at 455 million people. With enlargement, the EU's surface area has grown by more than 34%. We have the new Constitutional Treaty, which, for the first time, refers specifically to space activities. We are likely to have a new Commission President, and we are expecting to see the new Financial Perspectives soon.
"So there is a lot of movement going on, a lot of trains are leaving the station, and a lot of eyes are watching for developments in the Space sector. This means extra leverage for us and for our agenda if we can deliver our Report on time."
The Panel of Experts on Space and Security is expected to hold a total of four meetings this year.
First call for proposals published
Momentum continues to build in European space sector
The White Paper on European Space Policy
The European Satellite Centre (EUSC)
Space a key security asset say Busquin, Dordain
The Report on 'Research for a Secure Europe'