The cooperation of the European Commission and the European Space Agency is a unique partnership of two leading European-level organisations providing joint leadership for Europe in the field of space.
This cooperation was born from the shared belief that each partner needs the other to deliver on the public policy objectives, provide an appropriate political profile and a more coherent framework of space activities in Europe.
The cooperation has long-standing roots, with parallel EU and ESA Council Resolutions already in the 1990s, and in 2000 the creation of the first joint EC-ESA Paper, the European Strategy for Space, already showing the unique power of the two organisations working together to develop the space policy agenda of Europe.
This fruitful cooperation resulted in the conclusion in 2004 of the EC-ESA Framework Agreement , aiming at the progressive development of an overall European Space Policy by providing a common basis and appropriate operational arrangements for efficient and mutually beneficial ESA/EC cooperation. The Framework Agreement created the ministerial-level Space Council, the EC-ESA Joint Secretariat, and the high level space policy group, which have all proved crucial for the development of the European Space Policy. It also provides the legal basis for programmatic cooperation between the EU and ESA, including ESA's role as implementing agency for the European Union in delivering the ESP flagship applications Galileo and GMES .
The EC-ESA Framework Agreement defines straightforward working arrangements between the European Commission and ESA, and provides a solid basisfor coordinating activities between national governments and the European level. It will be regularly assessed and improved if required.
After the adoption of the jointly prepared European Space Policy, the Resolution of the Space Council in May 2007 [118 KB] invited the European Commission and the ESA Executive to establish a process of regular monitoring and priority setting through an implementation plan for the ESP. Thus, the EC-ESA partnership continues to be the driving force behind the development of the European space policy agenda.
On 14 November 2012 the European Commission issued a communication on "Establishing appropriate relations between the EU and the European Space Agency " (read also the citizens summary [131 KB] ). The communication argues that the emergence of space as an EU policy, the growing importance of EU space programmes and the EU's reliance on ESA's technical expertise must translate into an evolution of the governance of space matters at European level. In that regard the communications calls for an evolution in the EU-ESA relations and a "rapprochement" of ESA towards the EU.