€14.88bn EU Space Programme ready to take off

EUSPA will replace and expand the European Agency for Global Navigation Satellite Systems

The EU €14.88bn Space Programme, with the largest ever budget and that covers all activities in one single Space Regulation, was adopted by the co-legislators on Wednesday, confirming the political agreement of last December. The regulation will be published in the Official Journal in the coming days, and will retroactively apply from 1 January 2021.

The Commission welcomes the move by the co-legislators, and outlines that the new programme will ensure the continuity and evolution of the three existing flagship programmes Galileo, Copernicus and EGNOS. It will also support new initiatives on space surveillance (SSA), including Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST), Space Weather and Near Earth Object (NEO), and satellite communications (GOVSATCOM). The Space Programme will contribute to the green and digital transformations of EU's economy.

Margrethe Vestager, EC Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, commented that the Space Regulation Europe will enable modernisation of the flagship programmes and access to develop new European space activities. “Together, we can accelerate and transform our space policy,” the EVP also said.

According to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, Europe has all it takes to be a global space leader - it has talents, industrial capacity, technological leadership and experience of ambitious space missions and programmes.

“But there is not time to lose. The space sector is under massive transformation. The global race is on. If we want Europe to maintain its position as global space power, we need to act now. And the Space Regulation will support an ambitious space strategy for Europe,” Commissioner Breton underscored.

The new regulation will enable the modernisation of Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus and will ensure EU autonomous access to space and accelerate the development of New Space in Europe. It will provide the backbone for supporting the space industry and will foster Europe's space technological leadership and resilience, in order to be able to compete in the global race. It will also help the industrial ecosystem recover from the crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

With this new regulation, the EU will promote the downstream applications and technologies, users and market uptake and the exploitation of the huge potential of space data and services to develop value-adding applications and services. Moreover, the space data and services provided under the EU Space Programme will support the green and digital transitions, which are a cornerstone for the European recovery.

The Space Programme further promotes the entrepreneurship in the European space ecosystem and its competitiveness. The €1bn Space Investment Fund, CASSINI, will boost start-ups and disruptive innovation. It will contribute to make Europe a hub of space entrepreneurship in the world.

The EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) replaces and expands the European Agency for Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GSA). It will be the entity in charge of exploitation of EGNSS and, in doing so, will guarantee the continuity of services for EGNSS, security and the accreditation of the systems and ensure the market uptake for all components of the Space Programme.

In line with the regulation, the governance will be streamlined with clear tasks of the various actors, namely the Commission (the programme management), EUSPA (the exploitation of Galileo/EGNOS, security and development of downstream applications for all components of the Space Programme) and the European Space Agency (ESA) (research and development).

Rodrigo da Costa, GSA/EUSPA’s Executive Director, highlighted that EUSPA is ready to implement the EU Space Programme and join hands with its partners to make the EU space ambitions a reality. “We will boost our support to reinforce the dynamic and innovative downstream sector because we want society to benefit even more from space-based services. We will continue delivering and enhancing safe and secure navigation services for the EU citizens and the Member States. We are committed to getting the best out of the EU Space Programme components, in particular Galileo, EGNOS, Copernicus and the upcoming GOVSATCOM, and are ready to contribute to new initiatives such as space-based secure connectivity,” da Costa specified.

The new EU Space Programme will give the EU the framework to act on EU priorities. In order to keep the global leadership, Europe needs to accelerate the transformation process of the EU space policy, to address future challenges and to reduce dependencies in strategic sectors.

In this respect, the Commission has proposed two new flagship initiatives, the space-based secure connectivity initiative and space traffic management. In addition, the EU needs to explore new and competitive solutions for access to space.

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