European Space Policy
Space systems are not only strategic assets needed for Europe's independence and readiness to assume global responsibilities and implement its public policies, but also indispensable for citizens' welfare and the European economy, as they enable services and applications used in all socio-economic activities. They have a strong impact on the daily lives of European citizens. As a result, the European Union has become increasingly involved in space activities and the need for a comprehensive space policy has become widely recognised. The strategic mission of the European Space Policy, jointly developed by the European Union, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Member States, is based on the peaceful exploration and exploitation of outer space.
The European Space Policy is the culmination of a decade long process, and also reflects the growing collaboration between the EU and ESA. However, the significance of the European Space Policy lies in the fact that it is the first wholly joint document addressing all dimensions of space activities, compiled and adopted after extensive consultations with member countries of the EU and ESA, as well as industry and other key stakeholders, and endorsed by those member countries.
In 2009, when the latest EU treaties entered into force, Member States conferred to the EU a stronger role in space matters. The Treaty of Lisbon introduced for the first time a specific space competence for the European Union, enshrining space policy as an EU policy in its own right.
Consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) ,
"In the areas of research, technological development and space, the Union shall have competence to carry out activities, in particular to define and implement programmes; however, the exercise of that competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs."
Article 189 defines the following dedicated provisions on space:
- “To promote scientific and technical progress, industrial competitiveness and the implementation of its policies, the Union shall draw up a European space policy. To this end, it may promote joint initiatives, support research and technological development and coordinate the efforts needed for the exploration and exploitation of space.
- To contribute to attaining the objectives referred to in paragraph 1, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall establish the necessary measures, which may take the form of a European space programme, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.
- The Union shall establish any appropriate relations with the European Space Agency.
- This Article shall be without prejudice to the other provisions of this Title.”
On 4 April 2011 the European Commission released the Communication "Towards a space strategy for the European Union that benefits its citizens ", which reflects the crucial role of space for the economy and society. The Communication sets out the main priorities for the EU space policy, which include ensuring the success of the EU's two flagship space programmes Galileo and Copernicus (previously known as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security - GMES), the protection of space infrastructures, and space exploration. The Communication calls also for the development of an industrial space policy in close cooperation with EU Member States and the European Space Agency.