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Keeping the EU's space industry competitive and avoiding satellite collisions

Today, the European Commission proposed measures to keep Europe's space industry competitive and to set up a European satellite collision avoidance system.

While the EU is a strong player in the global market for commercial launchers and telecommunication satellites and services, it faces increasing competition from emerging industrial actors in countries such as China and India - competition posing a challenge to the further development of the EU's industry.

To address this issue, the Commission proposes a new industrial policy for the European space sector, with a number of targets: to increase industry skill levels, to make finance and investment more readily available, to ensure the EU's independence in space and also to reshape the EU's legislative framework to make it a driver for industry - for example with legislation to promote the production and dissemination of data from satellites for commercial purposes.

These initiatives will be complemented by a surveillance and tracking system to protect satellites from collisions in space. There are around 16,000 objects orbiting the Earth larger than 10 cm, a collision with any of whom would destroy a satellite. The proposed support programme would allow EU Member States that monitor satellites and space debris to pool their capacities and establish, for the first time, a European monitoring system.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "EU investment in space-based infrastructures will open up new opportunities for businesses in Europe. But we need to do more. Without a vibrant space industry in Europe, we will not be able to reap the benefits of our investments. We must provide the conditions to allow our industry to compete at global level, and to create a real internal market for innovative space-based services. In parallel, we need make sure that we can protect these investments in infrastructure from damage."