WASHINGTON — Seven members of the European Parliament, the legislative branch of the European Union, are pushing for a recovery plan for space companies hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
The parliamentarians wrote to Thierry Breton, a commissioner overseeing space in the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, estimating that the European space sector could contract by 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) in 2020, equivalent to 12.5% of the industry’s collective revenue.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is leading to a sharp economic slowdown and to a dramatic reduction of international trade,” the parliamentarians wrote in an April 30 letter obtained by SpaceNews. “This situation will have a heavy toll on the European space sector, and may lead to rapid capability and capacity loss, including highly specialised technical and managerial skills, that will take years to rebuild if they are not promptly mitigated.”
Two of the parliamentarians who wrote to Breton are from France (Manual Bompard and Christophe Grudler), and another two are from Italy (Massimiliano Salini and Andrea Caroppo). The other three are from Germany (Damian Boeselager), Portugal (Carlos Zorrinho) and the Czech Republic (Evžen Tošenovský).
The parliamentarians said the coronavirus pandemic makes it more important for the European Union to at a minimum commit to the roughly 16 billion-euro funding level sought for its space programs from 2021 to 2027. That funding is part of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework, a seven-year budget still under debate, with recent discussions focused on including a coronavirus recovery plan for Europe.
The European space industry needs a recovery plan that would “aim at developing new enabling space-based services contributing to the general European economic recovery,” the parliamentarians wrote.
The 27-nation European Union should not let the coronavirus delay the procurement process for its Galileo and Copernicus satellite programs, they wrote.
Sonya Gospodinova, a European Commission spokesperson, told SpaceNews May 6 that the commission received Breton’s letter, and that it would provide a response, but gave no timeline for when that would occur.
Eurospace, a European space industry trade group, released a paper April 30 detailing steps European companies want the EU to take to support them during the pandemic. Those steps include the EU being an early customer for space-based products, incorporating space into EU defense and security initiatives, and increasing funding for research and development of space technology.