Satellites can help the EU monitor climate change, address international
crises and contain natural disasters. Today in Brussels EU Research
Commissioner Philippe Busquin and Mr An-tonio Rodotà, the Director
General of the European Space Agency (ESA), officially opened a large
stakeholder consultation forum aiming at the definition of European needs
to enhance global monitoring for environment and security (GMES). 250
participants, representing users, suppliers and researchers, addressed
policy options to upgrade Europe’s capability for global monitoring by

Combining spaceborne, land-based and airborne technologies, GMES will pool
Europe’s activi-ties in satellite observation and remote sensing. GMES
seeks to make better use of Europe’s existing and planned capabilities and
infrastructures and to develop mechanisms for improved collection and
distribution of information.

Data from Envisat and other spaceborne and terrestrial observation
systems will improve the ability of European researchers, private
companies and public authorities to track environmental pollution, react
to emergencies, improve cross-border response to catastrophic events,
follow movements of refugees, facilitate the distribution of aid, and
support peace-keeping troops out-side Europe.

Commissioner Busquin said: “GMES is both a technological and an
organisational challenge for Europe. It is a good example of how Europe,
by working together in research, can develop technologies that contribute
to improving the quality of life and meeting security needs. For instance,
GMES will support implementation of the EU fisheries policy through more
accurate monitoring of the evolution and migration of fish stocks.”

Mr Rodotà referred to the dedicated efforts by ESA in the framework of
GMES. As a new step, ESA will start implementing operational services than
can now meet some priority users’ re-quirements, based on current Earth
observation capacities. “Concrete implementation of the GMES initiative is
thus under way. Furthermore, ESA is now fully engaged with the European
Commission in discussing the most appropriate arrangements for ensuring
the long-term sus-tainability of the GMES initiative” .

Today’s meeting is the first in a series that will foster dialogue between
decision-makers and the many organisations involved in monitoring and in
providing information for environmental and security purposes. The forum
will lead to publication of a report at the end of 2003, to provide
policy-makers with recommendations for future action.

GMES will enhance Europe’s ability to retrieve and process information
obtained from space-borne and terrestrial observation systems with other
geographical or socio-economic data. It will respond to growing concerns
among policy-makers for timely, free and independent access to information
on the environment and security at global, regional and local levels. GMES
will support EU policies in areas such as sustainable development, global
climate change and the common foreign and security policy.

At the global level, GMES will provide new verification tools to
contribute to the precise moni-toring of compliance with international
agreements, such as the Kyoto protocol on climate change, as well as
security and international aid agreements. At the same time, GMES will
help local authorities pinpoint problems (e.g. shoreline erosion,
environmental stress) and react more effectively to catastrophic events
(e.g. floods, mudslides, avalanches, and forest fires). At EU level GMES
will provide new objective data to support a broad range of EU policies,
including regional development, transport, agriculture, enlargement,
development, and foreign policy.

GMES is a key element of the European Space Strategy developed by the
Commission and the European Space Agency. Along with the Galileo global
satellite navigation system, GMES will be a major pillar of the European
Space Policy emerging from the ever-closer partnership be-tween the two

In November 2000, both the EU and ESA Ministerial Councils endorsed the
GMES initiative and identified GMES and Galileo as top priorities and
test cases for implementation of the European Strategy for Space.

GMES was also presented in the Commission Communication to the Gothenburg
Council in June 2001, with the goal to create the system by 2008. The idea
was further developed in the Communication “Outline GMES EU Action Plan
(Initial Period: 2001-2003)”, which elaborates on the objectives, general
implementation principles, organisation and first priorities.

On the ESA side, GMES is at the core of a new 5-year programmatic element
(the “GMES Ser-vices element”), fully subscribed by the ESA Council at
ministerial level in November 2001. It will allow for the delivery of
operational information, based on current European observation capacities,
for the thematic priorities already identified in the GMES framework. A
first invita-tion to tender for those services will be issued in September

GMES is also a key element of the “Aeronautics & Space” priority of the
6th EU Research Framework Programme and will feature in calls for
proposals to be published at the end of 2002.

The GMES initiative will also be presented at the World Summit for
Sustainable Development taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa, in
September 2002, as a follow-up to the 1997 Kyoto conference on global
climate change.

For further information on European space policy and GMES please visit:

For more information, please contact :

Michel Verbauwhede

Tel. :+32(0)2.743.30.93

Fax : +32(0)2.743.30.71