Space and European Security

June 8, 2004

Brussels, 07 Jun 2004

In a January 2003 Resolution, the European Parliament asked the Commission to deliver a White Paper on European Space Policy. The Green Paper that followed laid out a number of relevant issues and called for a comprehensive consultation on the subject. The subsequent series of workshops included a joint Greek Presidency/EU event in May 2003 specifically dedicated to security and defence issue.

Based on the results of the Space Green Paper consultation, the European Commission adopted the White Paper on European Space Policy in November 2003. In Chapter 3.4, entitled "Space as a contribution to the CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy), the ESDP (European Security and Defence Policy) and to the anticipation and monitoring of humanitarian crises", the Commission urges the reinforcement of space technologies in support of security and defence policy requirements. This is to be done, it says, by both supplementing existing space-based security capabilities and developing new ones.

A new EU Security Research initiative

Security is an evolving concept, representing challenges for the EU-25 in a wide range of policy areas. The European security strategy 'A secure Europe in a better world', endorsed by the European Council at Thessaloniki on 20 June 2003, outlines global challenges and key threats. Among these are terrorism, organised crime, natural disasters and disease.

The EU Communication, entitled 'Towards a programme to advance European security through research and technology', explains why security research needs to be co-ordinated at the EU level. Significantly, it earmarks €65 million for the Preparatory Action on Security Research (PASR)(2004-2006), which will lead to a full European Security Research Programme starting in 2007.

The PASR Information Day, held in Brussels in March 2004, attracted over 400 participants from research and academic institutions and industry. Many of the attendees represented groups from the space and aeronautics sectors. The first PASR call for proposals was launched on 31 March 2004

Space and Security interlinked

The interest in Security Research among the aerospace community comes as no surprise. The 'Group of Personalities in the field of Security Research', whose Report 'Research for a Secure Europe', argues for the establishment of a major European Security Research Programme (ESRP), includes members representing a number of important space interests.

Space technologies and infrastructure are undoubtedly crucial to any credible and effective security policy. Today, most security-related information comes from satellites operated within national or bilateral or intergovernmental frameworks. Any security policy will require permanent access to suitable space-based systems and services because of their strategic capabilities.

European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin has made it clear that, for the Commission, the distinction between defence-related and civil research no longer makes sense. Earth observation (EO) satellites, for example, have obvious applications in both arenas. The GMES programme, developing EO technologies, will be of great importance in both civil and security realms. GALILEO is another space technology with great potential security impact. In fact, say most experts, any number of programmes now on the way promise multiple-use capabilities.

A Panel of Experts on Space and Security

One of the specific recommendations of the White Paper on Space Policy was the establishment of a Panel of Experts on Space, Security and Defence. The Panel, established on 7 June 2004 by Research Commissioner Busquin, will:

  • Contribute to the identification of the required space technological, legal and institutional requirements to be in place among the relevant European parties;
  • Determine how to contribute to the EU response to global security issues, including the fight against international terrorism and criminal organisations, control of EU external borders, and the fight against drug trafficking.

Subjects for Panel discussion also include:

  • ESDP requirements for space assets;
  • Capabilities of existing civilian space programmes.

The Panel's main task will be to identify where security needs can be covered by civilian assets, and where civilian programmes would need additions or modifications to address requirements not otherwise covered. The Panel's Report will be presented before the end of 2004, providing technical and financial estimates on envisaged additions and modifications and providing recommendations on the way forward. Space and Security capabilities will be assessed with a view to contributing to the first proposal for a future European Space Programme.

More information

DG Research ndex_en.html
Item source: ecurity/security_en.htm

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