Belgium takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the next 6 months

Published: 
10 January 2024
By fostering the development of an innovative, competitive and independent space sector, EU Space is set to contribute to each of the priorities set by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
By fostering the development of an innovative, competitive and independent space sector, EU Space is set to contribute to each of the priorities set by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The theme of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is ‘Protect, Strengthen, Prepare’. 

“The vision of the Belgian Presidency is intended to be holistic, focusing on protecting people and the achievements of the EU, strengthening its economy, structures and capabilities, and proactively preparing for future challenges,” says Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Croo.

The Council presidency rotates among the EU Member States every six months. During this time, the presidency chairs meetings at every level in the Council, helping ensure the continuity of the EU’s work in the Council. 

Those priorities include everything from defending democracy to strengthening EU competitiveness, pursuing the green transition, protecting people, supporting Europe’s health agenda and promoting a global Europe – six priorities that will all benefit from the EU Space Programme

“By fostering the development of an innovative, competitive, secure and independent space sector, the EU Space Programme is set to contribute to each of the priorities set by the Belgian Presidency – all while reinforcing the EU’s autonomy, resilience and democratic principles,” adds EUSPA Executive Director Rodrigo da Costa.

Priority 1: Defending the rule of law, democracy and unity 

Defending the principles of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights will be an essential element in the Belgian Presidency’s work – work that will involve, amongst other aspects, exploring the links between culture, heritage and European identity.

EU Space can play a key role in protecting the unique cultural heritage and rich history that defines what it means to be European. For example, archaeologists use the precise positioning provided by GNSS to quickly survey a field site and accurately map the location of any uncovered artefacts. They can also use the Earth Observation data provided by Copernicus to monitor artefacts, prevent damage to monuments and adopt effective conservation measures.

Priority 2: Strengthening EU competitiveness 

The Belgian Presidency is also prioritising the role of research, development and innovation in developing and commercialising tailored solutions that boost EU resilience and competitiveness – a priority that is right up EUSPA’s alley. 

That’s because the Agency offers a wide range of funding opportunities, including the very successful Horizon Europe Calls, Fundamental Elements R&D funding mechanism and CASSINI activities, all of which are geared towards supporting research and innovation. In addition to cash prizes, many of these initiatives come with additional perks like mentoring, business support and incubation. 

Priority 3: Pursuing a green and just transition

In line with the Green Deal, the Belgian Presidency will place the green transition at the heart of its priorities.

While EU Space and the data and services it provides are important assets to supporting the implementation of the Green Deal, the EU Space Programme is particularly well-positioned to help companies take a deep look at their internal operations and supply chains to identify opportunities for reducing their own environmental footprints. For example, Copernicus, Galileo and EGNOS supply the information companies need to monitor environmental indicators, reduce their environmental impact, comply with relevant policies and regulations, become more sustainable and drive the green transition.

Priority 4: Reinforcing Europe’s social and health agenda

As the Belgian Presidency looks to support the evaluation of the EU’s crisis preparedness, strengthen the security of medicines supply and develop a strategy to boost the EU’s health and care workforce, it can turn to Copernicus for help. 

The Copernicus Health Hub, which was launched last year, is an innovative tool designed to help the health sector better leverage all the Earth Observation data, information, products and services available to them. Having access to such information could play a key role in preventing future pandemics, mapping diseases, addressing air pollution and monitoring allergens. 

Priority 5: Protecting people and borders

It’s not only the Belgian Presidency that is looking towards Europe’s borders, EU Space is too. For instance, GOVSATCOM, Europe’s Governmental Satellite Communications programme, will allow the EU to enhance surveillance, including border and maritime surveillance and the surveillance of illegal trafficking. 

The Copernicus service for security applications also plays a border surveillance role. Its main objectives are to reduce the death toll of illegal immigrants arriving by sea while also increasing the EU’s internal security and mitigating cross-border crime. The service is operated by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) and provides the external border surveillance information exchange network (EUROSUR) with near real time data on activity happening around the EU’s land and sea borders.  

Priority 6: Promoting a global Europe

The Belgian Presidency begins during a period when the multilateral system and the rules-based international order face increasing strain from geopolitical confrontation.

"In aligning with the thematic pillars of 'Protect, Strengthen, Prepare,' the EU Space Programme stands as a pivotal contributor across all fronts. By fostering innovation, resilience and unity, the EU Space Programme reinforces our commitment to a prosperous, secure and interconnected European landscape," declared Julien Béclard, Chair of the Space Working Party for the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2024.

 

“At its heart, the EU Space Programme is a European programme, built by Europe, for Europe,” concludes da Costa. “Whether it be boosting Europe’s competitiveness, supporting its energy independence, mitigating the effects of climate change, protecting citizens from security threats and natural disasters, or simply keeping us connected with one another, EU Space is a key tool for promoting a global Europe.”

Media note: This feature can be republished without charge provided the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) is acknowledged as the source at the top or the bottom of the story. You must request permission before you use any of the photographs on the site. If you republish, we would be grateful if you could link back to the EUSPA website (http://www.euspa.europa.eu).

Updated: Jan 10, 2024