Status Report

European Parliament resolution on the action plan for implementing the European space policy

By SpaceRef Editor
February 3, 2004
Filed under ,

Minutes of 29/01/2004 – Provisional Edition

European Space policy



European Parliament resolution on the action plan for implementing the European space policy

The European Parliament,

– having regard to the Commission White Paper entitled ‘Space: a new European frontier for an expanding Union – An action plan for implementing the European space policy’ (COM(2003) 673),

– having regard to the United Nations resolution on the prevention of pollution in space,

– having regard to its resolution of 9 October 2003 on European space policy(1),

– having regard to the Commission Green Paper on European space policy (COM(2003) 17),

– having regard to the conclusions issued following the Thessaloniki European Council of 19 and 20 June 2003,

– having regard to the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, adopted by the European Convention on 12 June 2003,

– having regard to the agreement reached by the ESA Member States at the interministerial meeting of 26 May 2003,

– having regard to the resolution adopted by the ‘Competitiveness’ Council on 13 May 2003,

– having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Investing in research: an action plan for Europe’ (COM(2003) 226),

– having regard to the Commission communication to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Industrial Policy in an Enlarged Europe’ (COM(2002) 714),

– having regard to Decision No 1513/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2002 concerning the sixth framework programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities, contributing to the creation of the European Research Area and to innovation (2002-2006)(2),

– having regard to its resolutions of 17 January 2002 on Europe and Space(3), and of 3 October 2001 and 7 February 2002 on Galileo(4),

– having regard to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 49/74 of 15 December 1994 on prevention of an arms race in outer space, in particular Article 4 thereof,

– having regard to Rule 42(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the exploration and use of space involve international cooperation; whereas for European space policy, cooperation with the United States and with other space powers (particularly Russia and China) is fundamental,

B. whereas consolidating independent access to space is a vital first step; whereas Europe has pursued this objective with extraordinary success, particularly thanks to the ESA; whereas the European Union has been increasingly committed to this policy,

C. whereas the important new constitutional treaty should confirm the proposal concerning the EU’s powers regarding space and the launching of a common security policy,

D. whereas the White Paper reflects a fuller assumption of responsibility by the European Union with regard to implementing European space policy and drawing up a space programme that is consistent with the strategic objectives backed by Parliament,

E. whereas European space policy ought to emphasise the horizontal dimension, placing space at the service of all European Union policies: for research, for safety and security, for telecommunications, for transport, for environmental protection, for agriculture, for the management of water resources, for early-warning systems in the event of floods and forest fires, and for earthquake risk reduction,

F. whereas if the right balance is struck between making commitments to research, the development of technologies and the creation of the infrastructure needed for a competitive space system, this policy will give a vital boost to the Lisbon strategy,

G. whereas space policy needs strong public support, since the risks are high, the investment needed for research and creating infrastructure is considerable, and institutional demand remains dominant while commercial demand is still modest,

1. Considers that an extended space policy, based on the new constitutional treaty, must include the strengthening of national commitments in support of the programmes already begun (particularly through the ESA) and increased Community commitment, inter alia with a view to advancing in the exploration of space and the solar system, sciences of the universe and basic scientific research;

2. Considers that pooling resources and sharing investments is the most sensible way forward, while recognising that the long-term objectives can be achieved only on the basis of Community projects which require a progressive increase in the resources made available to the Community space budget, inter alia by definitely earmarking financial commitments for space in the future framework programmes for research;

3. Notes, however, that for the first phase (2004-2006) the White Paper postulates scenarios which take into account the existing Financial Perspectives, while for the second phase (2007-2013) it restricts itself to indicating possible alternatives concerning the funds that may be available, while not yet providing a solution for the relationship that is required between ambitions and resources;

4. Considers, in view of the strategic significance of the conquest of space, its many technological and domestic repercussions and the emergence of new space powers, that the European Union must make a supreme financial effort, including in particular the development of space applications relating to global security;

5. Recognises the need for a more flexible and efficient system of enabling the returns to be reaped on an equitable geographic basis (‘juste retour’); is firmly convinced that the national space industries must continue to participate in appropriate and reliable ways in the market, without giving rise to any unnecessary duplication of structures;

6. Emphasises the huge importance of the Galileo project, which was launched under the aegis of the European Union and jointly financed with the ESA; expresses its satisfaction with the conclusion, by the joint undertaking, of the competitive tendering process organised for the selection of the concessionaire and hopes that the negotiation of an overall agreement with the private sector will be carried out shortly for the undertaking of further research activities for innovative applications; calls on the Commission and the Council, when setting up the supervisory authority for Galileo, to provide for efficient structures to ensure the transparency, smooth operation and safety of the system;

7. Welcomes the participation of China in the Galileo programme; this will create broader support for the European space project and open up prospects for scientific and technological cooperation with China as a space power;

8. Calls on the Commission to move forward in launching the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (as initiated jointly by the Commission and the ESA), and endorses the priorities which the White Paper sets out for the development of specific earth observation services; calls on the Commission to specify which management structure could coordinate the various GMES entities;

9. Calls on the Commission to consider, within the framework programme initiatives and as a complement to GMES operations, the subject of unpiloted aircraft which, because of the height at which they fly (20 km, compared with 400 km for satellites), could make it possible to remotely detect fires of small dimensions immediately (before they spread) and to monitor borders electronically (for improved defence);

10. Stresses the importance of data collection and data management infrastructure, and the need to encourage interoperability between existing systems; considers it vital for the European Parliament to be informed about the options chosen for the interface between civil and military GMES usage;

11. Supports the intention to focus on satellite technologies as infrastructure so as to use to the full the potential offered by the available broadband technologies in order to bridge the digital divide, not only between the EU and the new Member States but also with the less developed partners of the EU, such as Africa;

12. Considers that if the technologically neutral approach based on competition between operators set out in the eEurope 2005 action plan is adopted, satellite technologies may constitute an appropriate solution for rural and outlying regions as part of an initiative covering the enlarged European Union; endorses the proposal to examine this issue at the forum on the digital divide which the Commission plans to hold in early 2004, and to encourage the launch of pilot projects to consider the various technological options, including space-based ones; considers that precise details should be given on how the Commission intends to allocate resources for the Structural Funds for this purpose;

13. Endorses the strategy proposed by the White Paper concerning the contribution which space policy can make to the CFSP and the ESDP; considers that research activities ought to be coordinated further, and that coordinating steps should be taken to put an end to the fragmentation of industrial programmes connected with defence;

14. Considers it essential to cement and extend the traditional cooperation with the US, in a sector that is suited by its characteristics to international scientific cooperation, and urges the Commission to specify what role it wishes to assign to the International Space Station (ISS), taking into account the new space strategy that the US is developing; takes the view, as regards cooperation with Russia, that Europe must become involved in installing the Soyuz system at the European base of Kourou, with a view not least to ensuring the availability of a manned capsule, which could open up the opportunity for Europe to be a full partner in international manned flight projects;

15. Welcomes the Franco-Russian agreement of November 2003 concerning the setting-up of a Soyuz launch tower at Kourou, in line with the European Space Agency’s resolution of 27 May 2003, with a view to widening the range of European launchers and preparing for the possibility of future manned European flights;

16. Believes that a Community commitment is necessary to ensure that the space centre in French Guiana is kept operational and that the Ariane 5 production facilities are maintained, since they are projects of common European interest, and believes that they must be funded and managed accordingly; considers, also, that a European approach needs to be taken to the programme on future launchers with a view to covering the basic research;

17. Believes that a competitive market base is required in order to gain a share in the world market and thus also encourage the use of European launchers by European institutional clients and to strengthen overall commitments to research and technology;

18. Calls for the European Astronaut Corps based in Cologne to be opened to would-be astronauts from the new Member States with a view to their taking part in manned space missions, with specific financial support from the European Union if necessary;

19. Takes the view, concerning governance, that the entry into force of the new treaty will strengthen the Commission’s responsibilities, making it necessary to prioritise a single vision to unite the actions of the Commission, the ESA, the Member States and other institutions, while respecting differing areas of responsibility in order to optimise commitment in a technological area which is of vital importance for Europe’s competitiveness;

20. Believes it is particularly important to ensure that the framework agreement between the European Community and the ESA is complied with, especially given a strategy which will be structured in two phases and which will include a commitment to report regularly to the Council and Parliament;

21. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Governments of the Member States.

(1) P5_TA(2003)0427.
(2) OJ L 232, 29.8.2002, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 271 E, 7.11.2002, p. 398.
(4) OJ C 87 E, 11.4.2002, p.141, and OJ C 284 E, 21.11.2002, p. 300.

SpaceRef staff editor.