Press Release

The European Commission presents Action Plan for Space

By SpaceRef Editor
November 14, 2003
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The European Commission presents Action Plan for Space

EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and European Space Agency (ESA) Director Jean-Jacques Dordain were on hand to unveil the highly anticipated White Paper on European Space Policy on 11 November 2003 in Brussels. The document, entitled ‘Space: a new European frontier for an expanding Union’, represents the most ambitious action plan ever conceived for space activities in Europe.

“The development and exploitation of Europe’s capabilities in satellite communications, global positioning and earth observation will have important social, economic and commercial benefits for all of us,” said Busquin. “The Space White Paper is the result of one of the most extensive consultations ever conducted in the research and technology sector, and the final results show that policy makers and citizens alike strongly support a more active role for the EU in space.”

Jean-Jacques Dordain said, “This a great day for Europe and space. There is not a single one among us who does not use space on a daily basis, and today we are committing ourselves – ESA along with the European Union – to meeting the growing demand for space services.” Asked to elaborate, he said, “Just imagine what would happen if we decided, for one day, to cut off all satellite services. Navigation, weather and especially communications services, all of these are more and more a part of our lives and, in a very real sense, our society could not function without them.”

“But this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Busquin. “Technologies developed for space applications filter down into so many other sectors. The full impact of space activities is impossible to over-estimate.”

Key recommendations

Space technologies and applications are now widely seen as key elements in support of EU policies and objectives, from the environment to agriculture to information technologies to defence and security. The Space White Paper makes specific and concrete recommendations for guaranteeing Europe’s independent access to space, enhancing space technology, promoting space exploration, attracting young people into careers in science and engineering, strengthening European space science and fostering competitiveness.

“But going beyond the long list of concrete benefits that will come with a strong space programme,” said Busquin, “we must also consider the symbolic value of a European flag in space. This is an immeasurable source of inspiration and motivation for our young people as we bridge this new frontier.”

“The Space White Paper is not an end but a beginning,” said Dordain, “It is the beginning of a new and, we believe, glorious and rewarding chapter in the story of Europe in space.”

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SpaceRef staff editor.