White Paper on European Space Policy - examples of how space can help the EU meet its objectives

November 12, 2003

Brussels, 11th November 2003

See also IP/03/82 dated 21/1/03 and MEMO/03/138 dated 24/6/03

A European Space Policy in an enlarged Union will offer valuable tools that can contribute to the achievement of many Union objectives €- at an affordable cost and with greater efficiency.

  • Challenge: Invest in the knowledge economy. The European space strategy will strengthen economic growth, job creation and competitiveness, (the March 2000 Lisbon European Council's strategy), and make a success of enlargement by supporting cohesion and economic, industrial and technological growth throughout all Member States.
    • Space tools: Satellite telecommunication can be a competitive, cost-effective instrument of the knowledge economy that can deliver fast track broadband technology to the 20% of the EU's territory where it cannot be made available by "conventional" solutions. It will contribute to closing the "digital divide" with the new Member States, complementing terrestrial solutions and generating economies of scale at reasonable costs.

    • Two out of every three intercontinental telephone calls are carried by satellite, and business and public administrations need the technology for transferring high volumes of data. Growth and diffusion of these commercial and entrepreneurial applications of space technology in areas such as transport and mobility, agriculture and fisheries will help to strengthen industrial competitiveness, and deliver faster economic growth and employment in an enlarged EU.
  • Challenge: Achieve sustainable development goals . In June 2001, the European Council in Gothenburg adopted a strategy for sustainable development. The Council noted that its objectives had "the potential to unleash a new wave of technological innovation and investment, generating growth and employment." The Council asked for the establishment in 2008 of a European capacity for global monitoring for environment and security.
    • Space tools: Earth observation from space supports sound environmental management and protection by providing basic homogeneous observations with unsurpassed coverage on climate and weather, oceans, fisheries, land and vegetation. Observations from space enable weather forecasts over five days in advance. A sustainable agricultural model could also benefit from the use of earth observation tools.
  • Challenge: Take a larger role in the world. Build a stronger Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) supported by a European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
    • Space tools : To be credible and effective, CFSP and ESDP must be based on autonomous access to reliable global information so as to foster informed decision-making. Space technologies and infrastructures ensure access to knowledge, information and defence capabilities on the ground that can only be available through the capacity to launch, develop and operate satellites providing global communications, positioning and observation systems. At the same time, space-based systems can provide a higher level of security for citizens, allowing, for example, a better enforcement of border and coastal control and identifying humanitarian crises in their early stages.
  • Challenge: Strengthen industrial performance. Step up R&D and technological innovation, while defining priorities for trans-European transport networks.
    • The European Council has set the objective of raising total R&D spending in the Union from 1.9% to 3% of gross domestic product by 2010. Moving ahead with transport infrastructures is set to kick-start economic growth. This could contribute, in the long term, to a 0.23% growth in EU GDP.

    • Space tools : space R&D and transport infrastructure development are also part of a larger value chain which stimulates R&D in other sectors and leads to commercial applications, such as GALILEO, with potentially large revenues and job creation. Each euro invested in space applications generates a turnover of €7-8 due to the development of added-value services.
  • Challenge: Fight poverty and aid development .
    • Space tools : The EU is the largest provider of development aid in the world. Space technologies can strengthen its development efforts, help other countries to develop access to information, raise skill levels and better manage their resources. In addition to supporting the creation of broadband infrastructures, space technologies such as earth observation and global positioning systems can be employed in a variety of tasks including:

    • protecting soils and managing water resources

    • monitoring crop development and forecasting food production

    • preventing and managing natural disasters €- providing early warning for flood and fire risk

    • monitoring the tropical forest

    • preventing landslides

    • ensuring coastal and maritime monitoring.

      DN: MEMO/03/2 Date: 11/11/2003

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