Space: A European priority

How Europe’s space programmes – Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus – help the EU achieve its 10 political priorities

The European Union (EU) has outlined a series of ambitious political priorities: from job creation to strengthening the digital and internal markets and monetary union, from tackling the challenges of climate change and migration to protecting justice, to negotiating free trade agreements and ensuring Europe’s position as a democratic, global actor. Today, these priorities are defining the Europe of tomorrow.

When we talk about space, much of the attention goes to high-profile satellite launches and exploration, but in fact space plays a critical role in achieving these EU policy objectives. As the ultimate objective of Galileo, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Copernicus is to translate space technology into reliable services and benefits for European citizens, many EU political initiatives are, either directly or indirectly, driven by space.

Examples of how space is impacting some of these priorities can be found below.

Job growth and investment

Today, Europe’s space programmes support over 50 000 jobs. Furthermore, European companies make up a quarter of the global navigation satellite systems’ (GNSS) downstream market. As Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus serve as key enablers for new trends such as big data, the Internet of Things and multimodal transportation, this market share will only increase, creating new jobs and business opportunities along the way. Watch the video!

The Digital Single Market

Europe’s space programmes play an essential role in the creation of a connected Digital Single Market. For example, Galileo standard time serves as the reference for telecom networks and financial transactions, and GNSS-powered location-based services create new possibilities for e-commerce. With the increasing connectivity of the Internet of Things and the advance of the autonomous vehicle, GNSS and Earth observation will continue to play vital roles in the development of Europe’s Digital Single Market. Watch the video!  

Energy and climate change

As the EU works to establish a resilient energy policy with a forward-looking climate change policy, it increasingly looks to space for answers. From providing the maps to find the best locations for renewable energy infrastructure to outlining the most fuel-efficient flight paths, enabling precision farming, optimising road transportation routes and monitoring CO2 emissions, Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus provide the solutions. Watch the video!

Internal market

Europe’s space programmes play an essential role in the EU’s ongoing effort to establish a deeper, fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base. For example, GNSS allows for a more precise tracking of the movement of goods, and many European highways are turning to satellite positioning for road tolling. In terms of strengthening Europe’s industrial base, EGNOS and Galileo have contributed to over 8 million hours of efficiency gains in manufacturing. Watch the video!

Monetary union

Galileo’s standard time provides an extremely precise stamping time on financial transactions, which helps increase user trust in mobile transactions – both critical to creating a deeper and fairer monetary union in Europe. Watch the video!

Free trade

As the EU negotiates a reasonable and balanced free trade agreement with the USA, space is expected to play a major role. With agriculture being a key component to the agreement, EGNOS and Galileo will play an important role in providing precise tracking of agricultural goods. Furthermore, since both systems are compatible with their US GNSS counterparts, European businesses will benefit from easier access to US markets. Watch the video!


Justice and fundamental rights must be based on mutual trust – and that trust comes, in part, from Europe’s space programmes. Thousands of European lives are being saved thanks to the precise location of 112 emergency calls provided by European GNSS. Furthermore, Europe’s space programmes are helping authorities to crack down on human trafficking and combat terrorism. Watch the video!


As migration to and across Europe is forecasted to continue for the foreseeable future, the need for long-term prediction of migration patterns is essential. Luckily, Europe’s space programmes can help. For example, Copernicus and Galileo can monitor sea conditions, allowing for more efficient patrolling and search and rescue initiatives. Watch the video!

Global actor

As the world’s only GNSS programme under civilian control, Galileo puts Europe in a unique position on the world stage. More so, the up-to-date satellite imagery provided by Copernicus allows Europe to play a larger role in global disaster relief, and the precise positioning offered by Galileo and EGNOS is influential in Europe’s involvement with global development projects. Watch the video!

Democratic union

Europe’s space programmes are helping to usher in a new era of democratic involvement. From real-time voting via your smartphone to enabling crowd-sourced petitioning, Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus are empowering European citizens to become more directly involved in the democratic decision-making process. Watch the video!

Updated: Oct 16, 2018