EU could agree on new regulation for space program by May

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The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament are currently negotiating the final shape of the regulation. Credit: European Commission
The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament are currently negotiating the final shape of the regulation. Credit: European Commission

WARSAW, Poland — The Council of the European Union, representing ministers from the EU member states, has agreed on a draft regulation for the bloc’s space program. The regulation is to provide Brussels with an adequate budget to continue its space projects, such as EGNOS, Galileo and Copernicus, and establish the rules for the governance of its space program, among others.

The Council of the European Union and the European Parliament are currently negotiating the final shape of the regulation. The authorities of Romania, which holds the rotational EU presidency from January to June 2019, aim to reach an agreement before the European elections in May, paving the way for the regulation’s implementation, according to Leonidas Karamountzos, a spokesperson for Competitiveness Council, one of the forums in which the council’s members deliberate.

“The proposed regulation is part of the follow-up to the Commission’s Communication on a Space Strategy for Europe (SSE). The Commission proposal suggests  an overall budget for the programme of 16 billion euros in current prices for the period 2021-2027 with the following indicative breakdown: 9.7 billion euros for Galileo and EGNOS, 5.8 billion euros for Copernicus and 0.5 billion euros for the [Space and Situational Awareness program and the GOVSATCOM governmental satellite communication initiative],” the Council of the European Union said in a statement.

Asked about the progress made within the EU’s leading space projects, Karamountzos highlights the operational capacities of three of the projects, namely Galileo, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) satellite navigation systems, and Copernicus.

“Copernicus, the European Union’s revolutionary earth observation and monitoring program, is fully operational. Copernicus delivers operational data and information services openly and freely in a wide range of application areas,” Karamountzos told Space News. “The EGNOS is also fully operational and is benefiting numerous market segments, including aviation, road, rail, maritime, surveying/mapping, location-based services and agriculture. Galileo provides positioning and timing services to around 400 million users since December 2016. It currently consists of 26 satellites and will reach full operational capability in 2020.”

New governance rules

The new space regulation will allow to establish a coherent, transparent framework under which various European institutions are to cooperate on the EU’s space program, according to the x.

The “Space Strategy emphasised the key role of partnerships between the Commission, the Member States, the European GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) Agency, the European Space Agency and all the other agencies and stakeholders that are involved in the implementation of the European space policy, thus highlighting the crucial importance of putting in place an efficient and appropriate governance for the delivery of the [EU’s] space program,” Karamountzos said. “The regulation lays down specific provisions for the governance of the program by clarifying the relations between the various players involved and the role of these players, mainly the Member States, the Commission and the European Union Agency for Space, and by establishing a unified system of governance for all the components of this program.”