A comprehensive action plan aimed at kick-starting investment in networks and knowledge was presented by European Commission President Romano Prodi on 11 November 2003 in Brussels. The European Growth Initiative final report reinforces the Union’s structural reform agenda and includes the ‘Quick-start’programme of projects that are ready to begin in the immediate future. Among these are GALILEO, GMES and a new space launch facility in Kourou.

“The European Growth Initiative is a much-needed catalyst for growth and competitiveness in an enlarged Union,” said Prodi. “It is about taking advantage of synergies and co -ordination in order to raise Europe’s economic potential.”

Joining Prodi were Energy and Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio and Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. “This initiative focuses on priority areas for European growth,” said Busquin. “These include major space programmes – GALILEO, GMES and the upgrade of the Kourou space port.”

The initiative

The Quick-start programme includes 56 projects: 31 in the area of transport, 17 in energy and eight in high-speed communications networks, R&D and innovation. Why these projects? They are all ready to start immediately, have strong cross-border impact and are expected to yield positive results in terms of growth, jobs and protection of the environment.

The overall level of investment from now until 2010 amounts to about €62 billion. According to Prodi, this represents a realistic annual investment of about €10 billion, around 40% of which is expected to come from the private sector. “This translates into about €6 billion per year from the Union,” said Prodi. “A small price to pay for getting the European economy moving.”

Space components

The European economy has experienced two difficult years and, while signs that the worst is past are encouraging, the situation remains fragile. Boosting Europe’s ability to generate and use knowledge is a key to ensuring that European businesses can continue to innovate and compete and that citizens can participate more fully in society. Space technologies and their applications are an important part of that.

The GALILEO satellite navigation programme will contribute enormously to the establishment of cross-border rail connections, sea and inland waterways and road links. Meanwhile, GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) is expected to be fully operational by 2008 and will lead to a wide range of economically beneficial services. Finally, a new facility for launching Soyuz rockets from Kourou, French Guyana, will extend European space launch capabilities in terms of type of launch vehicle and size of payloads.

Confidence is key

“This is just a start,” said Prodi. “We must now take this framework into account when allocating Union funding and persuade Member states to do the same. The objective of this initiative is to unlock and speed up investments in order to integrate Europe and increase its economic potential. This means sending a signal in order to restore confidence and, in turn, growth.”
For more information: