The European Union Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) programme aims at providing secure and cost-efficient communications capabilities to security and safety critical missions and operations managed by the European Union and its Member States, including national security actors and EU Agencies and institutions.
GOVSATCOM is intended to be a user-centered programme with a strong security dimension.
GOVSATCOM is one of the elements of the Global Strategy for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy of June 2016. The Programme will contribute to the EU’s response to specific threats, provide support to the EU Maritime Strategy and the EU Arctic Policy.
Three main use cases have been identified:
- Crisis management, which may include civilian and military by Common Security and Defence missions and operations, natural and man-made disasters, humanitarian crisis, and maritime emergencies;
- Surveillance, such as border and maritime surveillance, or surveillance of illegal trafficking;
- Key infrastructures, including EU space infrastructures such as Galileo and EGNOS.
The implementation of the GOVSATCOM component of the EU Space Programme will start in 2021, under the new Space Programme Regulation, while the GOVSATCOM Preparatory Action, initiated by the European Parliament started already in 2019.
In a highly fragmented landscape, with telecommunications services being offered by both nationally owned and commercial satellite infrastructures, a mismatch currently exists between governmental satellite communications (SatCom) needs and available solutions. As a result, key missions, operations and infrastructures of the Union and its Member States are exposed to security risks.
Access to secure SatCom services is key in case of network interruptions (e.g. in case of natural or man-made disasters), unavailability (e.g. in maritime areas or in the Arctic region), humanitarian missions in hostile territories and operations of critical infrastructure.
Secure satellite communications that can be timely and efficiently deployed are critical for governmental security actors such as police, border guards, firefighters, civilian and military crisis forces. SatCom services can assist in securely operating response missions, which may not be able to rely on the traditional networks or may be subject to cyber threats.
To address existing challenges and ensure an appropriate level of European non-dependence on third parties’ technology, the European Council on its 19-20 December 2013 meeting welcomed the preparations for the next generation of Governmental Satellite Communication (GOVSATCOM) through close cooperation between the Member States, the European Commission and the European Space Agency.
- Given the new role for the Agency in the GOVSATCOM component, the European Commission has already entrusted the GSA with the following preparatory activities:The establishment, growth, coordination and management of the Network of the future EU GOVSATCOM users. The Network already counts on more than twenty organisations, including Member States and EU Agencies. Led and coordinate by the GSA, the Network aims to compile and understand user needs and define a detailed roadmap for the innovation on the future GOVSATCOM user technology;
- The support in the definition of the Security baseline of the programme, which will be essential to ensure adequate fulfilment of the security needs to the users approved by the competent GOVSATCOM authorities;
- The definition of the architecture for the secure ground infrastructure, also known as Hub, which will be in charge of aggregating the supply and making it available to the users.