The Green Paper Consultation Events:
Preliminary Observations

Brussels Inaugural Conference (6 March 2003)

Main highlights included:

  • Addressing the institutional framework in which space activities could be placed and speaking specifically about the role of space in the future European Treaty, former Belgian Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the European Convention Jean-Luc Dehaene introduced the concept of space as a shared competence.
  • In addition to strong interest in satellite applications, the role of space science was underlined, as a driver for technological innovation and the development of new applications. Specific guidelines for co-operation and co-ordination within and among national and international programmes, and for strengthening the scientific community were called for.
  • The concept of a highly visible and inspirational flagship programme was discussed, aimed at stimulating interest in space, particularly among the younger generation.
  • In a new departure for Europe, discussion of space applications gave rise to an exchange of views on the concept of dual- or multiple-use technologies. This essentially means using the same satellite systems for both civil and defence and security purposes.

Madrid: The Industrial View (25 March 2003)

The Madrid meeting provided the opportunity for an extended discussion of the current critical situation within the European space industry, covering not only satellites and launchers, but also system operators, ground segment interests and the insurance market. Highlights of the meeting included:

  • The need for an institutional market which fully recognises the potential of space in addressing civil policy objectives, including communication, navigation, basic science and monitoring of climate change and environmental damage, was noted. Such recognition along with harmonisation of public programmes would substantially increase the viability of the space industry.
  • Independent, reliable and affordable access to space was seen as mandatory for Europe.
  • The workshop noted that international co-operation remains attractive in numerous areas and is not incompatible with the objective of European autonomy. A particular example of such co-operation, the International Space Station (ISS), was cited. Seen primarily as primarily a political tool, the ISS represents a long-term investment for the benefit of future generations, not necessarily a commercially viable business.
  • As at the Brussels workshop, interest in space among the public was addressed, particularly with respect to new and ambitious European programmes and their attraction for young engineers. A further common theme was the major role to be played by the EU in ensuring a harmonised and well-founded regulatory framework across Europe.
  • The need for a European Security and Defence Agency was stressed in the context of discussions of multiple-use systems. The inclusion of space within the Treaty, both as an objective and as a shared competence of the Union, was also supported.
  • Participants stressed that, without a sufficiently ambitious European space policy, the current restructuring being undertaken within the European space industry will not lead to a stronger industrial base. New vocations and competencies cannot be expected to develop without the underpinning of a long-term programme supported by a solid political commitment.

Berlin: The View of the Scientific Community (8 April 2003)

The Berlin meeting concentrated on European space science. In particular, it underlined the sometimes underestimated role of science in space activities, not least in making available key technology developments. The main in highlights were:

  • A call was made for stopping the reduction of funds for European science research. A proposal was made to develop a mandatory programme for earth observation (Earth Explorer missions) with a level of resources comparable to that of the space science programme. The scientific role of the ‘Global Monitoring for Environmental Security’ (GMES) programme was stressed, as was the synergy between research and development of scientific and defense requirements.
  • The exploitation of data was seen as a problem common to scientific and applications programmes. The need for a data policy harmonized at European level was underlined, with the European Commission supporting a powerful data processing system for climate forecasts and global change monitoring. This was accompanied by a call for sustained funding and long-term continuity of observing systems, information availability, data delivery and cost-effectiveness. Mandatory public funding should be considered to support the availability and distribution of data from key observing systems. The EUMETSAT organisation was identified as the reference for such issues.
  • Discussion of the International Space Station underlined its high suitability as a base for microgravity research, as well as for research in the life and physical sciences. The role of the European astronauts as ambassadors and purveyors of a European identity was also recognised.
  • The political and strategic need for Europe to maintain and develop its own means of access to space was stressed, with the proviso that additional costs linked to this need should not reduce the existing science budget. The need for a well-engineered launch infrastructure was also highlighted.
  • The Aurora programme, which seeks to put a human on Mars within the next 30 years, was seen as a promising initiative, a programme around which the European Union could establish and sustain a significant level activity over the medium to long term.
  • Finally, the role of the European Union as a contributor to horizontal and infrastructure activities was stressed, with a number of fields identified for consideration. They include an independent data systems network, ISS utilisation, critical technologies for payloads, development of future nuclear and electric propulsion systems, data analysis and archiving.

Rome: Institutional Issues (28 April 2003)

The workshop in Rome was aimed at registering the views and reactions of the institutional sector, including governments and other public institutions. The following conclusions were reached:

  • The need for independent access to space and the role of the EGAS (European Guaranteed Access to Space) programme were confirmed.
  • The role of science as an enabler for future applications and commercial activities was developed. In order to secure the health of the sector, a doubling of the science budget was cited as a long-term goal.
  • The critical situation in which the European space industry currently finds itself was noted. In order to remedy the situation and to ensure at least a ‘level playing field’ with respect to the United States, a doubling of the total yearly public investment was considered a critical medium- to long-term goal.
  • Applications were seen as the core area of space activities. The role of space as an important tool for the implementation of key Union policies and objectives, including the knowledge society, sustainable development and European defence and security, was also confirmed.
  • With respect to Space Policy and the institutional context, it was confirmed that a ‘space landscape’ without an important role for the Union was no longer conceivable. In addition the workshop concluded:

    – Space policy should be discussed and guided at the highest political level, that is at Ministerial level;
    – Space policy should also be reviewed by the European Parliament;
    – ESA should become, in some sense, the Space Agency of the Union.

London: Space Applications (20 May 2003)

The space applications workshop held in London assembled representatives of satellite operators, service providers, users, industry, national space agencies and universities. The wide-ranging discussions highlighted the following points:

  • Space applications are important for technology and scientific development and the security of citizens, to attain the goal of an information-based society and for practical utilisation and business exploitation.
  • Current industrial problems are linked to the cyclical behaviour of the space business. Depending on the market and strategic situations, dominance in the market moves between commercial and public markets.
  • The goal of seamless broadband communications access for everyone in Europe can be achieved using satellite systems. A new programme to develop digital services, and thus to exploit this market, was proposed.
  • Earth observation technology is mature, particularly in the space segment, but the full exploitation of services still requires public support. The value chain needs to be re-evaluated, while the support of the public sector, as principle user and application developer, remains essential.

Prague: The International Dimension (2 and 3 June 2003)

Located in Prague, capital of one of the accession countries expected to join the Union in 2004, this workshop was designed to highlight the international aspects of a European space policy. Particular points emphasised were:

  • The new Member States will have a strong interest in rapid inclusion in European space activities. This may include anything from limited participation in individual programmes such as GALILEO and GMES, to associate status within ESA.
  • Russia and the Ukraine will become the closest neighbours of the enlarged Union. Both have indicated a willingness to enter into long-term strategic partnerships in key areas such as human spaceflight, launchers, and applications such as navigation and global monitoring.
  • The Union and ESA have developed instruments for collaboration, including ESA’s PECS programme and international involvement in the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for RTD. These elements now require further co-ordination and refinement.
  • Absolute autonomy in space for Europe was seen as unrealistic. Autonomy in strategic areas must be combined with co-operation in others. Where it collaborates, Europe must be a strong partner.