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A space strategy for Europe - 06/04/2011

Proposed EU space strategy would lead to more coordinated investment, and boost growth and jobs.

The EU already has its own space navigation and Earth observation programmes – EGNOS, Galileo and GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) – for strategic and economic reasons.

The Commission wants to build on these programmes with a common space strategy – aimed at securing the EU’s independence and its position as a global leader in space technology. To achieve these goals, the EU needs to maintain independent access to space.

EGNOS, the EU’s first step in satellite navigation, is now operating over Europe and includes a service that makes air travel safer. Galileo will provide Europe with its own global satellite navigation service, distinct from the US’s GPS. The EU’s Earth observation system, GMES, will be ready in 2014.

Strategic planning

The new strategy proposes:

  • completing Galileo, implementing GMES and developing a range of new services for businesses, governments and the general public
  • improving GMES to monitor climate change more accurately
  • increasing the EU’s ability to monitor its seas, borders, and to respond effectively to crisis – in the EU and elsewhere
  • establishing a system to protect communication satellites and other critical space infrastructure from space debris, asteroids and solar radiation
  • involving the EU in space exploration and giving all EU countries access to space and to the international space station
  • developing a space industrial policy with the European Space Agency and EU countries
  • investing more in space research and related innovative technologies
  • using advances in space technologies to benefit transport, the environment, security and defence, crisis management, humanitarian aid and information technologies
  • pursuing space dialogues with key partners United States and Russia, and initiating discussion with other space faring nations such as China in order to develop more synergies – space should become an integral part of the EU’s external policy, in particular to the benefit of Africa

Economic growth and jobs

The space industry directly contributes to the EU's Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs. Better telecommunications, navigation and environmental monitoring systems help companies develop new, innovative services – creating high-skilled jobs, more business opportunities and spin-off technologies.

European space manufacturers currently have an annual turnover of €5.4bn and employ 31 000 staff. Europe’s 11 major satellite operators employ 6 000 people and have a turnover of €6bn per year.

Next steps

The Commission will consider concrete proposals later in 2011, once the proposed strategy has been discussed.

More on the EU's space programmes

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