Space Policy - Agreement with the European Space Agency (Extract from Background for the Competitiveness Council of 22 Sep)

September 19, 2003

Brussels, 18 Sep 2003

The Council is expected to reach a political agreement on the draft Decision on the signing of a framework Agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency (ESA).

This framework Agreement is aImed at developing an overall European Space Policy notably by securing Europe's independent and cost-effective access to space. The establishment of this Agreement provides a common basis and appropriate operational arrangements for a mutually beneficial cooperation between the EC and the ESA .

The majority of delegations are in favour of the text of the draft Decision as it stands now. However, one delegation maintains several reserves as it perceives being a lack of balance and clarity regarding the respective role of the EC and the ESA. The same delegation would like that Ministers discuss further the role and functioning of the proposed "Space Council".

The Commission has negotiated on behalf of the European Community since it received the negotiating directives form the Council on March 2002. In its Communication "Framework Agreement between the EC and the ESA", the Commission presented its perception on the main contents of such agreement.

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