European space policy
Space systems are strategic assets demonstrating Europe's independence and readiness to assume global responsibilities. The strategic mission of the European Space Policy, jointly developed by the European Commission and the ESA, is based on the peaceful exploitation of outer space.
On the 4th April 2011 the European Commission released the Communication "Towards a space strategy for the European Union that benefits its citizens [67 KB] ", which reflects the crucial role of space for the economy and society. The Communication sets out the main priorities for the EU, which include ensuring the success of the EU's two flagship space programmes Galileo and GMES, the protection of space infrastructures, and space exploration. The Communication also calls for the development of an industrial space policy in close cooperation with EU Member States and the European Space Agency.
The establishment of a space policy at European level demonstrates the ability of the EU to take a positive lead in areas of vital strategic importance that link a wide variety of policy areas - from telecommunications to humanitarian aid - and involve a complex interaction of players at regional, national and international levels.
As the policy develops and is implemented, it seeks to:
- develop and exploit space applications that serve Europe's public policy objectives and the needs of Europe's citizens and enterprises
- meet Europe's space-based security and defence needs
- ensure Europe retains a strong and competitive space industry that is innovative and provides sustainable, high-quality and cost-effective services
- contribute to the knowledge-based society by investing significantly in space-based science and playing a strong role in international space exploration
- secure Europe's unrestricted access to the best technologies, systems and capabilities to ensure the availability of independent European space applications.
The European Space Policy will ensure that Europe plays a leading and significant role in space and that space-based technologies maximise benefits to Europe and its citizens. A vision of ' the ambitions of Europe in Space' was outlined by the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, during a key note speech on 15 October 2009.
11 September 2008 saw the adoption of the European Space Policy progress report [80 KB] . The annex to this report includes elements for a European strategy on international relations in space.
On 26 September 2008, the 5th Space Council [149 KB] welcomed the progress made through the implementation of European Space Policy and highlighted new priority areas:
- space and climate change
- space's contribution to the Lisbon strategy
- space and security
- space exploration.
The Council resolution recognised that the EU, alongside the ESA and the member states, is a major player in space. The EU wass charged in particular with strengthening the coordination of resources and programmes with ESA and the member states and the development of EU instruments and funding schemes to allow for long-term EU investment in space.
In the field of climate change, the Commission was invited to study the needs for full access to standardised data and for increased computing power.
In the field of security, the Resolution underlined the need for Europe to equip itself with a capability to monitor and survey its space infrastructure and space debris, with the EU - in conjunction with the ESA and member states - taking an active role in order to define the governance of this capability.
Finally, in the field of space exploration, the Commission was tasked with developing a common vision for Europe and its role in this global endeavour.The first step to that end was taken on 23 October 2009 when the 1st EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration took place in Prague. One year later the Second International Conference on Space Exploration, which was held on 21 October 2010 within the framework of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, was aimed at defining a common vision for Europe about space exploration.
The 6th Space Council , held on 15 June 2009, focused on the contribution of Space to innovation and competitiveness.
At the 7th Space Council , which took place on 25 November 2010, Ministers of the EU and ESA Member States adopted a resolution on “Global challenges: taking full benefit of European space systems”.