Brussels, 22 Sep 2003
The Council reached a political agreement on the draft Decision on the signing of a framework Agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency (ESA). The Decision will be formally adopted at a forthcoming Council meeting after verification of the text by the legal-linguists.
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 compromise text proposed by the Presidency was accepted unanimously. Some delegations were able to join the majority as the compromise text made clear that appropriate operational arrangements for the effective cooperation between the Parties, should be established with full respect of their institutional settings and operational frameworks.
Following negotiations conducted by the Commission on behalf of the European Community, an agreement between the ESA Executive and the Commission was reached in September 2003 on a joint draft text for a Framework Agreement This draft text has been the base for the political agreement by the Council. It is recalled that on 13 May 2003, the Competitiveness Council adopted a Resolution on an overall European space policy, which stressed "the need for concluding the framework agreement between the Community and ESA, as soon as possible and no later than the end of 2003, in view of the White Paper, as a step towards the further development of an overall European space policy".
The process which has led to the draft text of the EC-ESA Framework Agreement started in 2000 with the Commission Communication "Europe and Space: Turning to a New Chapter"4, which resulted in the setting up of a Joint Task Force by the European Commission and the Executive of ESA. The Joint Task Force assessed all aspects of co-operation between the European Union and ESA and submitted a report, which formed the basis for the Commission's Communication entitled, "Towards a European Space Policy"5, submitted to Council on 7 December 2001. One of the main conclusions of this communication was that a successful development and implementation of a European Space Policy required the establishment of formal relations (a "Framework Agreement") between the European Community and the European Space Agency, in order to define the principles and mechanisms of reinforced co-operation.