Green and digital transition in Europe will benefit from ESA expertise that supports national plans for investing recovery and resilience funds in space projects.

At the 303rd ESA Council meeting in Paris on 15 December 2021, ESA Member States took the decision to further the role of ESA as provider of expertise in support of national space plans, in particular in order to accompany the investment of Italian recovery and resilience funds in space programmes.

The corresponding arrangement for ESA’s assistance to the Italian National Project concerning Earth observation and space transportation and associated protocol were signed on the margin of the first Giornata Nazionale dello Spazio (Italian National Space Day), held at the Italian Space Agency (ASI) headquarters in Rome on 16 December 2021, by the Italian Minister for Digital Transition and Technological Innovation and delegated authority for space, Vittorio Colao, and ESA Director General, Josef Aschbacher, in the presence of the ASI President, Giorgio Saccoccia.

The arrangement covers, in particular, activities in the fields of Earth observation and access to space where Italy has remarkable track records as well as industrial and research capabilities. The closer cooperation between Italy and ESA, with the establishment of joint teams, will ensure that the best available competencies will be utilised in the most effective way. Joint activities will start in 2022 and shall be completed by 2026.

Minister Colao said: “We have signed an agreement with the European Space Agency for the development of key projects in Earth observation and space transportation. The constellation in Earth observation is an Italian asset designed to strengthen a European strategy in this area. The agreement will contribute to consolidate Italy’s skills in these areas, thanks also to the significant contribution of ASI. It’s time for change. The programmes we will carry out must be efficient, fast and effective – and must act as a magnet for expanding European partnerships and attracting private capital.”

ESA Director General, Josef Aschbacher, said: “ESA and its unique expertise in Europe are an asset to all our Member States. Italy’s decision, as well as similar decisions by other Member States, are a confirmation of the importance of space technologies in tackling the challenges linked to the green and digital transition and the recovery of our economies. This agreement is an important building block in accelerating the use of space for society, one of the key goals of Agenda 2025. On behalf of all women and men at ESA, I am very proud of the trust our Member States place on us in assisting them to carry out their national projects.”