Space policy of the European Union

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A formal European Space Policy was established on 22 May 2007 when a joint and concomitant meeting at ministerial level of the Council of the European Union and the Council of the European Space Agency adopted a Resolution on the European Space Policy.[1] The policy had been jointly drafted by the European Commission and the Director General of the European Space Agency.

Currently each member state pursues their own national space policy, though often co-ordinating through the independent European Space Agency (ESA). Enterprise and Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen has stated that even though the EU is "a world leader in the technology, it is being put on the defensive by the US and Russia and that it only has about a 10 year technological advantage on China and India, which are racing to catch up."[2][3]

The 2007 communication

A communication outlining the policy was released on 26 April 2007 which set out orientations for:[4]

  • Coordinating more effective civil space programmes between ESA, EU and their respective Member States to ensure value for money and eliminate unnecessary duplication, thus meeting shared European needs.
  • Developing and exploiting European space applications such as GALILEO and GMES (Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security) and satellite communication applications.
  • Preserving EU autonomous access to space.
  • Increasing synergy between defence and civil space programmes and technologies and pursue, in particular, interoperability of civil/military systems.
  • Ensuring that space policy is coherent with, and supports the EU's external relationships.

Components of the policy


The policy expresses support for an operational and autonomous Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) satellite capability before the end of 2008, and for a global navigation satellite system under European civil control, i.e. the Galileo positioning system.


The European Union has already started work on a project to create the Galileo positioning system, to break dependence on the United States GPS system. This is in cooperation with ESA as well as other countries.

Copernicus Programme

Copernicus is a European system for monitoring the Earth and consists of earth observation satellites and in situ sensors. The program provides services in the thematic areas land, marine, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management and security.

Launch systems

The policy emphasises the importance for Europe to maintain independent, reliable and cost-effective access to space through European launch systems, without mentioning any specifically by name. The policy statement affirms support for the "EC-ESA Framework Agreement" and the resolution on the evolution of the European launcher sector adopted in 2005.


The policy reaffirms a continuing European commitment to the International Space Station (ISS), and describes ESA participation in future international exploration programmes as being important.

Science and technology

The policy includes the goal of maintaining programmes that give Europe a leading role in selected areas of science. It also calls for development of technologies that allow European industry to avoid dependency on international suppliers.

See also


  1. ^ "Europe's Space Policy becomes a reality today". ESA. 22 May 2007. 
  2. ^ EU expected to unveil space policy before summer
  3. ^ EU to target satellite observation in space race
  4. ^ EU needs powerful space policy to face global challenges

External links

  • Text of the Resolution on the European Space Policy adopted 22 May 2007.
  • European Space Policy
  • GMES
  • GMES website
  • European Space Agency
  • European Space Policy Institute
  • Davies, Ron. "Towards an EU industrial policy for space" (PDF). Library Briefing. Library of the European Parliament. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 

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