The main aim of the EU’s space policy is to use space-related technology to tackle some of the most pressing challenges today, such as fighting climate change, helping to stimulate technological innovation, and providing socio-economic benefits to citizens.

EU space programmes

Between 2014 and 2020, over EUR 12 billion will be spent on the implementation of the EU’s three space programmes:

  1. Satellite navigation: The Galileo and EGNOS programmes which provide positioning, navigation, and timing information worldwide.
  2. Earth observation: The Copernicus programme which provides Earth observation data and information.
  3. Space research: Part of the Horizon 2020 programme focuses specifically on space technologies, applications (e.g. GNSS and Earth observation), weather, sciences, exploration, and other space related topics.

Why do we need an EU space policy?

The EU needs its own space programmes because they assist EU citizens and help with the implementation of EU policies through:

  1. Jobs and industrial growth: The space sector provides over 320 000 jobs in the EU from manufacturing to space operations and downstream services. It is worth about EUR 52 billion to the EU economy.
  2. Meeting key challenges: The space industry helps the EU to deal with and plan for a number of difficult challenges including:
    1. Industrial competitiveness
    2. Technological innovation and research
    3. Space security
    4. Space exploration
    5. International cooperation
  3. Investment in the future: The security, environmental, technological, knowledge and other benefits of EU space programmes will continue to provide benefits for future generations.

    Kids can learn more about space and its benefits in a fun way by checking out Your Learning Space.

Daily benefits from space-based applications

Space-based applications and services support many economic sectors every day. Specifically, they:

  • Increase efficiency in agriculture and fisheries: Satellite-enabled applications improve the mapping of cropland in need of irrigation, harvest forecasts, and fisheries control. This guarantees better food quality and security while safeguarding the environment.
  • Help regions access knowledge and information: Telecommunication satellites support communication needs when Earth-based solutions are limited. This reduces regional imbalances by serving communities in remote areas without internet access.
  • Improve crisis response: Satellite services help shorten response times in emergencies. Swift damage images and assessment maps contribute to more efficient planning and relief efforts, and help guide rescue services.
  • Protect the environment and help tackle climate change: Environment monitoring provides crucial information on vegetation, ocean currents, water quality, natural resources, atmospheric pollutants, greenhouse gases, and the ozone layer.
  • Increase security: Satellite positioning, satellite communications, and Earth observation contribute to detecting illegal immigration, preventing cross-border organised crime, and combating piracy at sea.
  • Improve citizens’ health: Space-based applications can significantly improve healthcare and the health education of patients through remote medical support. They also help in preventing or mitigating the outbreak of disease.
  • Optimise transport: When combined with enhanced communication capabilities, highly accurate satellite positioning contributes to a modern and reliable transport sector for cars, planes, and ships. It optimises fleet management, vessel traceability, collision prevention, speed control, assistance for ship manoeuvres, etc.

What the Commission does

The governance of space activities in Europe is based on cooperation between the EU, the European Space Agency (ESA), and their member countries. Ensuring effective and efficient cooperation and coordination between these actors is essential to optimise the impacts of European policies and investments in space.

With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, EU countries conferred a stronger role in space matters onto the EU. In a key policy document published in 2011 (Towards a space strategy for the European Union that benefits its citizens), the European Commission identified four key objectives for the EU’s space strategy:

  • promote technological and scientific progress;
  • foster innovation and industrial competitiveness;
  • ensure that European citizens fully benefit from European space applications;
  • strengthen Europe’s role in space at an international level.