The EU is committed to furthering its ambitions in space, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso told a high-level conference, held 15-16 October 2009 in Brussels.
At the ‘Ambitions of Europe in Space’ Conference President Barroso affirmed the EU’s political commitment to developing the EGNOS, Galileo and GMES space-based programmes as part of a strategic policy to benefit citizens.
The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Galileo are the EU’s satellite-based navigation programmes. Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) is a satellite-based Earth observation programme.
In a time of economic crisis, space-based applications are an “enabling tool” to help Europeans find ways to unleash their full potential for innovation and job creation, and to bring about a true knowledge society. He noted that the Lisbon Treaty enshrines space programmes in EU policy.
“Our citizens' well-being depends increasingly on space-based applications in areas such as environment, security and transport,” Barroso said to open the conference. “As demographics change, we will have to turn increasingly to space applications to develop social, medical and mobility services.”
The EU is investing an average of €700 million a year to support space related projects over the period 2007-2013. Following a Commission Communication which outlined for the first time the elements of a European space policy, the Council has identified four priority areas for attention – climate change, security, innovation and exploration.
The European Parliament has also endorsed the European Space Policy and asked the Council and the Commission to make concrete proposals on the four priority areas. As a result, the Lisbon Treaty sets space development as a shared responsibility of the EU and its Member States, President Barroso said. It is a policy he is committed to carrying through in his second term.
“In the political guidelines I presented to the European Parliament for my re-election for a second term, I have mentioned explicitly that space is one of the areas I want to see in the future as progressing at EU level and I believe that with the vote on my nomination, the Parliament has endorsed that as well,” he said.
Frameworks for space development
Other speakers noted the strong administrative frameworks that have been developed to carry through the policy. In the case of developing the satellite navigation programmes, European-level coordination is provided through the framework agreement between the Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA), as well as other implementation coordinating bodies, such as the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA).
Antonio Tajani, the EU’s transport Commissioner, said the partnership extended to working with industry to develop space-based applications for the benefit of Europeans.
Satellite navigation programmes are expected to generate billions of euros in benefits for Europeans and the industry growth from space-based applications will generate more jobs for citizens, he said. The EGNOS Open Service, which is freely available, officially began operations on 1 October this year. Galileo is due to begin operations in 2013.
The launch of the EGNOS Open Service marks the first success of Europe in satellite navigation, Tajani said.
Fotis Karamitsos, the Director for Maritime Transport, Galileo and Intelligent Transport at the EU’s Directorate-General Transport and Energy, said the improved location accuracy of EGNOS will lead to new markets for downstream applications and services in Europe. Once EGNOS is certified for use by safety-of-life services, expected to occur next year, those applications will expand to other market segments, including aviation, he said.
Jobs and growth
Matthias Ruete, the Director-General of DG Energy and Transport, said Europe’s satellite navigation programmes were necessary to help Europe become more competitive in the global marketplace. Money needed to be spent in supporting research and seeding start up companies, he said.
“Part of our agenda is to create jobs and stimulate growth,” he said.
In addition, the conference provided updates to participants on the current status of the EGNOS, Galileo and GMES programmes and their applications to the EU’s environment, energy, security, agriculture, mobility, fisheries and transport policies.
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