Space industrial policy
The space industry contributes in many ways to the objectives of the EU's economic strategy for this decade ('Europe 2020 Strategy') of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Europe’s space industry is increasingly under pressure from established and emerging space powers and cannot rely only on its past investments and legacy of successes to remain competitive on the global market. The EU is leading efforts to ensure that Europe further develops a balanced space industrial base, notably by bringing more SMEs into this sector, gaining or maintaining technological leadership, remaining non-dependent in sectors like launchers, and ensuring that there are sufficient people in the job market with the skills required for jobs in the space industry.
To reach these goals, support for space research and innovation is essential. This will enable the development of new technologies and applications, as well as the related downstream services sector. On 28 February 2013, the Commission issued a Communication on the "EU Space Industrial Policy: Releasing the Potential for Growth in the Space Sector" . This Communication proposes actions to increase industry's skills levels, to support research and innovation, to ensure the EU's independence in space, to make finance and investment more readily available, and to reshape the EU's legislative framework to make it a driver for the industry's competitiveness.
One important element of the EU Space Industrial Policy as regards of the EU's legislative framework is the new Commission proposal for a Directive on the dissemination of Earth observation satellite data for commercial purposes, which was adopted 17th of June 2014. Thanks to this Directive, businesses and research institutions will soon have more reliable access to commercial earth observation satellite data, according to a proposal presented by the European Commission in Brussels today. It aims to ensure better access to high resolution earth observation satellite data (HRSD) in particular, which, together with HRSD-based applications, are an essential tool for environment monitoring, urban planning, agriculture, natural resources management and disaster and emergency management, as well as being important for security and defence. Current regulations governing commercial activities using HRSD differ between EU Member States. This situation creates obstacles to market development as it hampers access to data vital by related businesses such as data resellers, data processors, value-adding service providers and software developers. Thus this proposal aims to improve business conditions for such companies in Europe and to partially harmonise rules defining HRSD and related transparency and standards in the EU.
As a new potential area of growth a number of private companies around the world are also competing to lead the space suborbital market. Sub-orbital flights could allow developing space tourism, weightlessness research, enabling fast point-to-point transport etc.