On 25 January 2006, the European Commission and EUMETSAT signed letters outlining future co-operation on GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). EU officials say the signing paves the way to a strong working relationship on Europe’s premier Earth Observation (EO) initiative, part of a comprehensive European Space Policy.

The European Commission has been a prime mover in getting GMES off the ground and it continues to build towards full European participation in this critical initiative. The letters of intention, signed in Brussels, establish the basis of a formal Agreement to follow between the two parties.

The letters have no financial implications but do set out areas of co-operation and assign clear responsibilities for the near term. Specifically, the Commission will access existing EUMETSAT satellite data and services and will define ways to use these within GMES. It will also recognise EUMETSAT as an operational agency for future GMES initiatives and will support initiatives to improve the use of EUMETSAT data in Africa. Meanwhile, EUMETSAT will offer technical support and guidance on how to establish new services. Specifically, existing and future EUMETSAT applications will be used in the to advance fast-track marine services.

“I am very pleased to sign this Agreement with EUMETSAT. The Commission and EUMETSAT have lots of common grounds, as the two organisations are driven by user needs. IN addition, EUMETSAT is a space operational agency. This is very important for us, particularly for the development of GMES services, which will have to be user driven and run operationnally. I hope that the signature of these letters is a first step towards a more intense and fruitful cooperation between the Commission and EUMETSAT.” said Mr Zourek Director-General of the Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General, signing on behalf of the European Commission.

Excellence in international co-operation

The new EU-EUMETSAT accord will ensure the availability of key satellite data not only for Europe but also for many developing countries. Together with the Commission’s Directorate-General for Development, EUMETSAT has already initiated a continent-wide project enabling all 53 African countries to access EO information through the EUMETCast system. This project, known as PUMA (Preparation for the Use of Meteosat Second Generation in Africa) will deploy 60 EUMETCast receiving stations in Africa and will enable all African countries, plus a number of regional centres, to access all EUMETSAT data, products and services.

As a continuation of the PUMA project, on the request of five African Economic groupings, the European Commission is now laying the groundwork for the AMESD project (African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development).

Combining forces

GMES is a joint initiative of the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA). It represents a concerted effort to bring environmental and security data providers together with users, to make such information available to those who need it, in the most efficient way. The EU aims to launch GMES services by 2008.

EUMETSAT is the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. Created through an international Convention, it is responsible for the launch and operation of weather and environmental monitoring satellites and for the delivery of satellite data to end-users. It also plays a major role in a global meteorological satellite observing system, in coordination with other space-faring nations. With its unparalleled experience as a provider of satellite data, EUMETSAT can guarantee delivery of high-quality data 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Commission considers this sort of capability crucial to the operational remit of GMES.


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