The EESC meets in BrusselsThe European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an Opinion on the Green Paper on European Space Policy at its 400th plenary session on 19 June 2003. As part of the European Union’s institutional system providing a link between Europe and civil society, the EESC has a key role to play in the Union’s decision-making process.

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a non-political consultative assembly where various socio-economic organisations and interest groups from EU Member States can express their points of views on EU issues. Its Opinions are forwarded to the larger institutions – the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament.

The European Commission decided to consult the EESC on its Space Green Paper in January 2003 when it launched the Green Paper consultation process. The Opinion was prepared and adopted by the EESC’s Single Market, Production and Consumption Section and was presented by Stéphane Buffetaut.

From the Opinion

According to the Opinion, the EESC considers that:

“… Europe’s position in the space sector will depend on the strength of its political commitment and the clarity of its budget decisions. The introduction of a shared and/or parallel competence for the space sector in the future European constitutional treaty would provide the European Union with the political, legislative and financial means to define and implement a strong space policy, which will have to, inter alia:

  • guarantee autonomous access to space for Europe;
  • contribute to Europe’s strategic autonomy;
  • develop a programme of scientific excellence;
  • promote applications benefiting EU citizens and sectoral policies;
  • coordinate a dual research programme in space technologies in order to ensure our independence in civil, commercial, security and defence activities.”

Strong words

The Opinion continues:

“Our scientific, technical and industrial capacity puts us amongst the leading players in the space field. The example of GALILEO is a clear demonstration that we must act swiftly and decisively, or risk forfeiting our first-rate capital in the space sector. The stakes are high: does the European Union have the political will and the economic clout to maintain its autonomy and remain among the elite in the world of space? Will ‘old Europe’ act with determination, vigour and confidence in the future or will it let itself become a vast retirement home for nations which were once great?”

Buffetaut reiterated these sentiments when he represented the EESC at the recent Green Paper Closing Conference in Paris, to both the delight and consternation of conference participants. While the EESC Opinion does not differ to a great extent with many of the ideas and opinions expressed over the course of the Green Paper process, its delivery reflects the sense of urgency and determination that could make the difference between a space power that looks to the future and a tired ‘once-was’ content to reflect upon past glories.