The future of Europe in space
Editor : Fondation Robert Schuman
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How should the space industry be reorganised in order to meet the objectives established by the European Union ? This is the theme of the new 'note' by the Robert Schuman Foundation.
The author reminds us that the Americans placed their ambitions in space were hegemonic, that might even be considered to tend towards a monopoly. The USA promotes the need to master communication, then defence by scientific applications in space, such as satellites for example.
European countries launched themselves into the conquest of space motivated by the need to be acknowledged and driven by politics. France distinguished itself by founding a launch pad and a national agency, the CNES, that were amply provided. It positioned the conquest of space within a strategy that was both scientific and political in order to resist the major powers in the Cold War.
The creation of the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1973, provided Europe with an efficient system that addressed all areas in space (launch pads, satellites …) except in the military domain.
ESA, that enjoys real autonomy in relation to the European institutions, has progressed rapidly with major programmes such as Ariane, Galileo and GMES.
The environmental monitoring and planetary change programme GMES aims to meet the growing requirement of 'environmental government and diplomacy'.
The radio-navigation satellite Galileo aims to offer an alternative to the American model (GPS). According to the desire of those who are promoting it, Galileo has been designed with international co-operation in mind as well as compatibility with other systems across the world. China has just associated itself to the project. To take it to its conclusion the EU and ESA elaborated an administrative and technical management structure in 2003.
2003 was a crucial year for the future of Europe in Space:
the ESA Council, on 27 May, confirmed united Europe's ambitions in Space,
the White Book, written by the European Commission, established the objectives in the re-organisation of the Space industry in Europe. Amongst its priorities : establish new institutional co-operation between the EU and ESA in order to set up a true, well balanced European Space Policy. The complementarity and subsidiarity of ESA with national agencies are still the cornerstones of the measures, of which France remains the driving force,
finally a framework agreement signed by the EU and ESA governs relations between political and scientific leaders in expectation of the creation of a new structure by 2007 at the latest.
Europe in Space is making progress. It still has a true advantage in terms of know-how. It should ‘ make a major step forwards' with the adoption of the draft Constitution that makes Space Policy a ‘shared competence'.
The Note was published on 18 October 2004 in Brussels during a debate in which Ms Claudie Haigneré, delegate Minister for Foreign Affairs took part, with aim of providing Europe in Space with new dynamism.
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