European Space Policy

The Way Ahead

European Union Space Policy celebrates its 10th anniversary. Since 2007, it has established three major space programs and fostered space research, always in strong cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) created in 1975. But what does space mean for European citizens? And what is its way ahead?

The EU's Role in Space

The EU is a key player in space. With a budget of 12 bn€ for 2014 to 2020, it is managing three programs (Copernicus, Galileo, Egnos) that address key societal challenges, foster economic growth, and ensure European autonomy: the earth observation program Copernicus, the European navigation system Galileo and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service EGNOS. The EU is funding space research and contributes to the space surveillance and tracking support framework – all this in strong coordination with the ESA. Last year, for instance, the two actors released a joint statement on their shared vision and goals for the future of Europe in space.

What does space mean for European citizens?

Space is much more than science fiction. Every day, space-based applications and services contribute to the EUs key economic sectors and to the safety and security of its citizens. Three examples:

  • Galileo and EGNOS are supporting the precise navigation and positioning of planes, trains, ships, cars and pedestrians on the road. Such services will become even more essential when moving towards autonomous transportation, be it autonomous cars or urban air mobility.
  • During the earthquakes in Italy in 2016, the fire blazes in Greece in 2017 or the recent flooding in Texas, Copernicus helped public authorities in all phases of disaster management. It provided early warning, identified the level of damages and monitored the medium- and long-term impact of the disasters on the environment, human safety and security.
  • In the domain of agriculture and forestry, Copernicus helps to assess crop conditions, yield forecasts and the density and health of forests. Galileo and EGNOS signals can be used to optimize the use of machinery and ease the work of farmers.

The Way Ahead

European Space Strategy

The current Multiannual Financial Framework will be ending in 2020 – and so will the financing of Copernicus, Galileo and EGNOS. The release of the Space Strategy was an important first step to ensure that these flagships can be extended, and that additional needs for secured satellite communication, space surveillance and tracking, and independent access to space can be addressed. But there is still a long way ahead. Airbus urges all policymakers to implement the Space Strategy, adequately finance European space programs beyond 2020 and ensure a level-playing field with third countries which are strongly promoting their space activities. Only with sufficient public support, space-based applications and services can continue to contribute to Europe’s economy, security and society.


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