Commission Communication on European space policy

The European Commission (EC) has adopted a Communication on European space policy, accompanied by the publication of two working documents assessing the impact of this policy and on the preliminary element of a European space programme. Produced jointly by the EC and the European Space Agency (ESA), these documents aim to give impetus to the common efforts being made by the European Union (EU), its Member States and the ESA, in order that the EU may lead the space sector, at both an industrial and technological level. On the same day the European Parliament (EP) passed a Resolution on contractual negotiations for the European navigation satellite system concession, better known as Galileo.

The Communication sets out guidelines for:

  • More effective coordination of civil space programmes between the EU, Member Sates and ESA, in order to achieve a reduction in costs and to eliminate duplication of efforts;
  • The development and exploitation of European space application, as in the case of the Galileo programme and the GMES initiative (Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security), as well as other satellite communication systems.
  • Preserving the autonomy of EU access to space;
  • Increasing synergy between defence and civil space programmes and technologies, seeking, in particular, system interoperability;
  • Ensuring that space policy is in line with the Union's international relations.

This Communication should be presented by the ESA's Director General to the ESA Board, which is to meet on 9 May, and should also be submitted for approval to the European Space Council at its meeting of 22 May; this is the body that brings together representatives of the EU Council and national representatives of the space agency.

The working document on the European space programme brings together the various preliminary activities and applications currently in progress or due to be enacted in the short term: satellite navigation, Earth observation, satellite communication, security and defence, science and technology, the international space station, exploration of the solar system and space access. Giving European space activity a global vision, the EC report constitutes a programmatic base for the future definition of contents and methodologies to be followed, with regular discussion and updates expected.

The objective is to gradually put together a common strategic framework for EU space activity. This space programme project also sets out, in general terms, the budget necessary for the activities envisaged for the period 2007-2013. The EC estimates an allocation of around 3 billion euros for space programme funds, a sum that rises to 23 billion euros in the case of the ESA. The national contributions of Member States will total 14 billion euros.

In the resolution adopted on Galileo, the European Parliament voiced its concern over delays in negotiations over the concession of the system and the possible increase in the programme's costs. The EP again underlined its support of the mandate given to Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Galileo Programme, and in June the European Council should be presented with: a roadmap for reaching contractual conclusions as soon as possible; solutions for securing the long-term financial obligations; a scenario for the short-term provision of EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Services); and alternative scenarios for the realization of Galileo, particularly in terms of costs, risks and sustainability.

The EP continues to wait for the Commission to submit two progress reports for its appreciation: one in mid July 2007 and the other before the release of a revised proposal for modifying the legal basis for the financing of Galileo.

Further information:

Related information on ANACOM's website:

  • Galileo