New Space Strategy for Europe launched at the European Space Expo

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02 November 2016


26 October was a momentous day for the European space sector with the adoption of the first truly comprehensive Space Strategy for Europe by the European Commission. The strategy sets out an ambitious vison for the future of space activities in Europe with its underlining message that ‘Space matters for Europe’. To celebrate this event a launch ceremony was held in the European Space Expo in Brussels, which has just completed a four-year tour around Europe.

European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič opened the high level event stressing that “Space is important for Europe and for European citizens.” He was pleased to see so many people celebrating the new EU Space Strategy and said that it gave new momentum to the whole space sector.

Space matters

European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, noted that this was the first time that the EU had developed such a comprehensive strategy for space. She said that the policy “builds on our respective strengths and strategies” and stressed the simple message that “space matters” for all of us.

The Space Strategy for Europe responds to growing global competition, increasing private sector involvement and major technological shifts. The Commission strategy proposes a range of actions to allow Europeans to fully seize the benefits offered by space, create the right ecosystem for space start-ups to grow, promote Europe's leadership in space and increase its share on the world space markets. The strategy will foster a competitive and innovative European space sector and maintain Europe's strategic autonomy while strengthening its global role in space.

In particular with the Galileo and Copernicus programmes becoming operational, there was a need to shift to concrete applications based on space data said Commissioner Bieńkowska. It was essential that the EU’s world class space industry remained competitive and that we are able to maximise the benefits from space for the whole of society.

GSA role

Of course the European GNSS Agency (GSA) has a major role to play in delivering and implementing the new Space Strategy across its four main priorities and in particular in terms of maximising the benefits of space for society and the EU economy, and fostering a globally competitive and innovative European space sector.

“The GSA welcomes and fully supports the new European Space Strategy,” said Carlo des Dorides, Executive Director of the GSA. “The Commission has confirmed the continuity of the systems and their operations, including the development of a third generation of EGNOS and a second generation of Galileo. With the imminent declaration of Galileo Initial Services by the Commission, and the provision of EGNOS Services since 2014, the GSA is working hard to ensure end-to-end GNSS service provision.  Through this we ensure that the EU’s investment in space is realised and available for the benefit of European society as a whole.”

Both members of the Commission recognised the contributions and collaboration of the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner said that the strategy represented the “start of a future journey for Europe.” He looked forward to a “United Space in Europe” where the added-value in space-based solutions can be demonstrated to benefit the whole of society.

Industry perspective

The implications of the new space strategy were discussed by a panel of representatives of the European aerospace industry large and small.

Luigi Pasquali, of Telespazio said that the strategy was an important framework for his company and the emphasis on delivery was essential. Stéphane Israël, of Arianespace agreed. For him the strategy was exhaustive and succeeded in bring space down to earth. It had the “right vision and new ambitions.” In particular he thought that autonomous access to space was essential for competitiveness.

Three entrepreneurs voiced the views of the dynamic SME segment in the space sector. John Smedegaard of Fieldsense, Winner of the Copernicus Masters competition in 2014 described himself as a “child of EU and ESA support” and said that the strategy with its increased focus on innovation inspires him to continue.

Rafael Olmedo from Geko Navsat, who has won the GSA Special Topic Prize in the European Satellite Navigation Competition (ESNC aka the Galileo Masters) twice, also completely identified with the strategy, seeing it as an opportunity to create business innovation. Finally Enrique Martinez of Sincratech, winner of the ESNC in 2014 also liked the strategy saying that its publication had resolved many outstanding doubts.

Wrapping up proceedings, Vice President Šefčovič thanked the contributors for their strong sense of support and team spirit for cooperation on space. Commissioner Bieńkowksa said the strategy showed the way ahead and she looked forward to working together to implement and deliver the policies.

“A perfect day” is how Jean-Yves Le Gall, who wears many hats as President of the French Space Agency (CNES), co-Chair of the ESA Council, and newly elected Chair of the GSA Administrative Board, commented on the event. He praised the personal commitments of the commissioners to the Space Strategy and said that its “priorities are matched to needs of the space sector” and the “result is a model of balance and clarity.” He looked forward to joint efforts in the future that would demonstrate that “space is Europe’s best achievement.”

One in a million

To complete the event, a certificate was presented to the millionth visitor to the European Space Expo: Laura Simon. The milestone had been achieved during the Expo’s last opening in Brussels. The European Space Expo visited 32 European cities during its four-year tour and presented its fascinating interactive exhibits to citizens in 19 different languages.

“Space is Europe’s best achievement.”

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More information:

Space Strategy for Europe
European Space Expo

Updated: Nov 14, 2016