Press Release

ESA and EU Hail Space Green Paper

By SpaceRef Editor
February 5, 2003
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ESA and EU Hail Space Green Paper

European Space Agency Director General Antonio Rodota and EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin met reporters in Brussels on 27 January 2003 to discuss the newly-adopted Green Paper on EU Space Policy. The document aims to stimulate a broad consultation process among European space sector players, ultimately leading to the presentation of a White Paper later this year.

Speaking at the Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium, Rodota said, “The Green Paper represents an attempt by Europe to set strategic priorities in space. Up to now, individual countries have set their own priorities without the aid of a unifying European policy. I am very happy today to be in Belgium, which has invested more than any other European country in space activities, but this has been a strategic choice made by Belgium. Other countries have invested less or have elected to contribute to only a small number of programmes that it considers important. The Green Paper raises the debate to the next level, the European level, and it will lead to a White Paper setting out our common space strategy as Europeans.”

Framing the issue

According to Commissioner Busquin, “The purpose of a Green Paper is to describe the situation as it stands and to lay the groundwork for a wide-ranging debate. The situation today in terms of space can be stated very simply. In Europe we are spending five times less on space than the United States. We have no policy relating to space at the European level, and yet we know that space is of critical economic, scientific and strategic importance. Our goal is to develop a clear and aggressive space policy that can be integrated into the next European treaty, and for this we need everyone’s input, right down to the general public. That is why we have set up the Green Paper Forum where you can contribute your own ideas.”

“We should add,” said Rodota, “that, even with a relative paucity of funding, we have managed to become a world leader in many areas of the space sector, in commercial launches, for example. But we cannot go on like this forever. Just think of what we will accomplish when we have a co-ordinated approach to space activities, and a robust funding policy.”

Ariane setback

“The recent Ariane 5 failure has been a setback for ESA,” said Rodota. “There can be no doubt of that, but we remain confident. We are working on a wide variety of programmes and we see no reason to let one failure set our whole agency back on its heels. We will come out of this and we will be stronger for it.”

The Russians

“Last week’s space workshop in Moscow was a first step for the Commission in the area of co-operation with the Russian Federation in space ,” said Busquin. “The new Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) is open to Russia and other third countries, but to get the best response, we need to be sure that they understand how it works, its instruments and procedures, and that they feel it is accessible to them.”

“ESA has a long history of working with the Russians,” said Rodota. “The Moscow workshop was very useful and it allowed us to meet and exchange ideas with Mr. Koptev on where we go from here and how to best utilise the new resources being made available by the Commission. A very relevant area today is that of launchers. In the wake of the Ariane 5 setback, we are looking at ways of using Soyuz launchers, including launches from Kourou in French Guyana.”


“When we talk about creating a strategic European policy for space, we have to be willing to consider all elements,” said Busquin. “Questions have been raised as to the use of space technologies for defence purposes. Certainly, earth observation technologies like GMES can serve both civil and military purposes and we have to be open in our debate to these kinds of issues.”

For more information on the Space Green Paper, see:

Introduction to the Space Green Paper
The Space Green Paper
Space Green Paper Discussion Forum

SpaceRef staff editor.