Space policy - Call for EU to catch up with US spending

October 10, 2003

Strasbourg, 09 Oct 2003


Report on European space policy - Green Paper


Doc.: A5-0294/2003 [may not be available yet]

Procedure: Own-initiative

Debate: 08.10.2003

Vote: 09.10.2003

Parliament adopted an own-initiative resolution on European Space Policy; the resolution comes in response to the Commission's Green Paper published earlier this year.

The emphasis in the Green Paper on the importance of European space policy is mainly due to the fact that two contrasting trends have become more marked. First, Community activities, most significantly Galileo, have assumed a more concrete form. On the other hand, the space sector - especially the European space industry - has been hit by a crisis, with difficulties on the telecommunications market and keen competition as regards launchers, to the point of endangering the very survival of an industry that had secured a substantial international presence.

Among the findings in its extensive resolution, Parliament regrets the growing gap between the public budgets allocated to space policy in the US and in Europe in both civil and military spheres. In fact, official US expenditure was equivalent in 2001 to more than 60% of the world market in manufactured goods, compared with 14% in Europe. Furthermore, the House is concerned that many strategic technologies in the space industry are being developed or exist solely in the USA, and that dependence on these American technologies is increasing.

MEPs want the Commission to look, together with the industry, at appropriate measures to respond to this problem. Space Policy has been especially beneficial in the areas of meteorology, telecommunications, public security, and agriculture and fisheries policies.

Up until now, the EU has worked alongside the European Space Agency (ESA), which has acted as an intergovernmental body to co-ordinate the activities of the Member States and played a guiding role in space research and applications. Parliament welcomes the recent framework agreement, signed on 1 September 2003, between the European Community and the European Space Agency as it constitutes a major step towards co-operation, which should minimise duplication of effort. Moreover, MEPs welcome the fact that the Convention's proposed Article 150 assigns a specific role to the Union in space policy, and urge the Intergovernmental Conference to take up this proposal as it stands.

MEPs support the agreement reached on the Galileo satellite navigation programme but draw the Commission's attention to the strict time frame laid down. The House stresses the need for industry to develop specific services for the use of the Galileo programme in order to fulfil its joint responsibility for the success of the project.

As to the GMES initiative, (designed to establish a European capacity for the provision and use of operational information for Global Monitoring of Environment and Security) Parliament urges the Commission to speed up its implementation particularly given the growing international interest. A White Paper on European Space Policy will be drawn up by the Commission and is due to be presented before the end of 2003.

Press enquiries: Richard Freedman (Strasbourg) tel.(33) 3 881 73785 (Brussels)  tel.(32-2) 28 41448 e-mail :

European Parliament Daily Notebook 1009

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