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Decisions from the Intermediate Ministerial Meeting 2021

Press Release From: European Space Agency
Posted: Friday, November 19, 2021

Government ministers in charge of space activities in ESA’s Member States today met at an Intermediate Ministerial Meeting held in Matosinhos, Portugal.

The Council of Ministers unanimously adopted a Resolution to accelerate the use of space in Europe (the “Matosinhos manifesto”) to tackle the urgent and unprecedented societal, economic and security challenges faced by Europe and its citizens.

The Resolution defined three “accelerators” to bring Europe’s space ambitions to the next level, mandating the ESA Director General to develop their governance and funding concepts, in concert with the Member States.

As a first priority, ESA will start working towards the “Space for a Green Future” accelerator to enable people to better understand the current state of the planet and to develop scenarios and solutions for sustainable life on Earth through a digital twin of our planet, which will contribute to achieving climate neutrality with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Secondly the “Rapid and Resilient Crisis Response” accelerator will aim at supporting governments to act decisively on crises facing Europe, from flooding and storms to wildfires, without prejudice to the sovereign competencies of the Member States and to the competencies of European Union.

Thirdly the “Protection of Space Assets” accelerator will have the objective to safeguard ESA astronauts and assets from interference by space debris and space weather.

The ESA Council also recognised two “inspirators” to reinforce European leadership in science, technology development and inspiration: an icy moon sample return mission; and human space exploration.

The concept of the three accelerators and two inspirators were defined over the past few months, based on the advice of a High-Level Advisory Group to the ESA Director General. The “Final Report on Accelerating the Use of Space in Europe” was issued in early October and its recommendations were presented by the ESA Director General to Member States at the ESA Council meeting held later that month.

The Resolution to accelerate the use of space in Europe strongly supports the vision of the ESA Director General’s “Agenda 2025” to build on Europe’s excellence in space and to realise its full potential, for the benefit of everyone on Earth and European citizens, in particular.

The Intermediate Ministerial Meeting was a milestone on the road to the European Space Summit to be held in Toulouse in February 2022, ahead of ESA’s next Council Meeting at ministerial level.

Josef Aschbacher, Director General of ESA, said: “Space is where the intensifying global competition for technological innovation, economic leadership and European autonomy will play out. It is urgent that Europe accelerates its use of space.

“The Intermediate Ministerial Meeting has recognised the need for a renewed European space ambition. The three accelerators and two inspirators will be steps for Europe to fully use space for its citizens, creating economic opportunities. This gives me as ESA’s Director General a clear mandate ahead of the European Space Summit.”

Manuel Heitor, Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education in the Portuguese Government, who chaired the ESA Intermediate Ministerial Meeting, said: “We all need to ‘make space for Europe’ in a way to guarantee that European citizens become an integral part of future space developments in Europe. This means to save lives, predict natural disasters, prevent fires and, overall, deal with climate change, dramatic biodiversity reduction, health and economic crisis, uncertainty and risks, together with ensuring security and safe conditions for our populations. This can only be addressed if space initiatives in Europe move forward in alignment with the digital and green transitions.

“The large-scale nature and fast pace of the climate crisis and other challenges means that no European nation will be able to effectively address them alone. Space has enormous untapped potential to help tackle these challenges and an acceleration in developing European space capability is now urgently needed.”​

More information

ESA Vision Website: https://vision.esa.int/

The Matosinhos Manifesto :  https://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/corporate/ESA_C_2021_176_EN.pdf

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania are Associate Members.

ESA has established formal cooperation with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes as well as with Eumetsat for the development of meteorological missions.

Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int

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