Press Release

Momentum continues to build in European space sector

By SpaceRef Editor
June 4, 2004
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Momentum continues to build in European space sector

In the wake of last year’s wide-ranging Green Paper consultation and the subsequent White Paper on European Space Policy, the European Union and its partners are moving forward with important new space initiatives. Upcoming events include the entry into force of the European Community and European Space Agency (ESA) Framework Agreement and the launching of a new ‘Panel of Experts on Space and Security’.

As the citizens of a newly enlarged Europe look to the future, fresh initiatives in the space sector are broadening the role of co-operation and tackling new and important challenges.

EC/ESA Framework Agreement

ESA is a European agency that does not form part of the European Union. While the two organisations have long maintained close ties, they have grown even closer in recent years, due to the increasingly important role of space in maintaining Europe’s political and economic strength.

In November 2003, the European Community and ESA signed a Framework Agreement on future co-operation between the two organisations and the joint development of a comprehensive European Space Policy. This agreement officially entered into force on 28 May 2004.

An important element of the Agreement entails the convening of an EC/ESA ‘High-Level Space Policy Group’, gathering representatives from EU and ESA Member States with the goal of reaching a common understanding on the implementation of European Space Policy, in particular the preparation of the future European Space Programme.

That Group is scheduled to hold its first meeting in Brussels on 4 June 2004.

The EC/ESA High-level Space Policy Group

The launch represents the practical entry into force of the EC/ESA Framework Agreement. The Group will be closely associated with the implementation of said Agreement and with the preparation of joint and concomitant meetings of ministerial-level EU and ESA Councils, the first of which is proposed for 26 November 2004.

The group will also be available to advise on joint proposals from the EC/ESA Secretariat, notably related to the development and implementation of the European Strategy for Space, the European Commission White Paper on European Space Policy and relevant aspects of the ESA’s Agenda 2007. It will be convened and co-chaired by the European Commission and the ESA Executive at Director General level, and will meet in Brussels and Paris.

Panel of Experts on Space and Security

The White Paper on European Space Policy highlights the strategic importance of space in implementing the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

It is now widely agreed that space-based technologies have a major part to play in ensuring the security of European citizens. This includes better enforcement of border control, conflict prevention, the carrying out of humanitarian missions, and fighting crime and terrorism.

With Europe now moving towards a comprehensive Security Research programme, the groundwork for which is being laid by the Preparatory Action on Security Research (PASR2004), the EU and ESA have attached a great deal of importance to security-related space activities.

Following the Report on ‘Research for a Secure Europe’, prepared by the Security ‘Group of Personalities’, the EC has now agreed to establish a ‘Panel of Experts on Space and Security’.

The first meeting of the Panel will take place in Brussels on 7 June 2004. In attendance will be European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, along with representatives of the European Commission, the Council, ESA, the European Satellite Centre at Torrejon, relevant working groups, the space industry and users’ organisations. A total of four meetings will be held this year.

The primary mission of the Panel of Experts is to provide the Commission with a Report by end of 2004 on the security and defence issues raised in the Space White Paper. This will include an assessment of needed capabilities, as identified by users, in view of developing a future European Space Programme in 2005.

SpaceRef staff editor.