Interview with Mr Norbert GLANTE, Member of the European Parliament
In the next issue of EOMAG, EARSC had the opportunity to discuss with the Member of the European Parliament Mr. Norbert GLANTE some topics relevant for the European Earth Observation Inital Operations programme
European Earth Observation programme (GMES) and Environment
After the submission of the regulation on the European Earth Observation programme (GMES) by the European Commission: What’s under discussion in the EP at the moment? What are the next steps to be solved after the approval of the regulation by the EU Parliament? How can EARSC support future decisions on GMES?
While preparing my report I was in direct contact with many different stakeholders such as ESA, EUMETSAT, representatives of relevant companies and National Permanent Representations. Thereby I got a brought overview and insight of this project, the related problems and also challenges we face. During the discussions in the Industry Committee and with the shadow rapporteurs it turned out that all political groups supported the proposal of the European Commission. Right from the beginning on the involved Members of the European Parliament were aware of the significance of this project for environment and society.
As GMES is considered to be an important European project the Parliament is willing to adopt the GMES regulation within its first reading. The Industry Committee voted unanimously the amended report on February 4th and a first informal meeting with representatives of the Council and the Commission has already taken place. For the moment trilog meetings are being prepared. Main points to be discussed beside budget matters are questions of governance of GMES and data policy. In case an agreement with the Council can be reached rapidly the Industry Committee will vote its legislative resolution end of May which is the last step before plenary vote. The aim is to finish the legislative procedure before summer break.
Once this regulation will be completed we expect a new proposal from the Commission in the first semester 2011 to pave the way for the next financial perspective. My committee will be strongly involved and I will still have a focus on GMES matters and count on the cooperation with EARSC.
A key success factor for GMES will be an appropriate Governance structure taking into account the needs and requirements of all stakeholders at all levels (European, national and regional). Do you think that Service industry also should be considered via EARSC?
For me the governance structure is one of the key questions for the project. Of course I see the need for users as for the service industry to participate and be involved, because GMES should be user driven and service oriented. But we have to define clearly which stakeholder group is organised in which kind of body and which task they should fulfil. Transparency as well as security criteria are to be respected.
COOPERATION & PARTNERSHIP WITH EO INDUSTRY
In your opinion:
How can the dialogue between the European research institutions and the service industry be improved?
Research Institutions and service industry need to work close together in order to identify the needs and find appropriate solutions – this is obvious. Existing networks should be more promoted. As a Member of the European Parliament, I can help to organise forums and create possibilities where research institutions and industry can meet.
How can we build a strong partnership with European research institutions to avoid unnecessary competition?
Cooperation and partnership are important, especially in a sector where the market is not developed yet. But on the other hand I do not want to avoid competition. Competition can lead to innovation and new ideas. With Galileo we have seen what can happen if there was no competition left. Two industry consortia merged and no step forward was taken. I know that Galileo and GMES are a different kettle of fish, but…
The establishment of a Data Policy supporting the development of public GMES markets at all levels (from global to local!) must be a priority and it seems to be obvious, that the data from the EO satellites realized for GMES with public money, shall be free of costs… However, how can a negative effect out of the current discussion on data policy (open and free access to everybody) on private data provider be prevented?
We had an intensive discussion amongst the Members of the Industry Committee and with the Commission about the question whether the data produced from GMES should be free of charge or not. In principle we agree with the concept of “free of charge” but we did not want to exclude the possibility to charge users in a further step, once the project is established and fully operational.
The Commission carried out a market analysis and concluded that at that time no company was operating in the area of data provision. As I know from my own constituency this has changed by now. As the creation of a well functioning market is crucial to the success of GMES, it is very important to have a data access with lowest barriers possible. On the other hand we do not want to constrain the development of new companies. Therefore I introduced the passage that the information and data freely and openly provided in connection with GMES services should not jeopardise the business models of existing enterprises or those in the process of being established into the regulation.
After the current GMES Initial Operations Phase, how do you see the planning and budgeting process in the GMES programmes? How to organize the next steps on financing the operations. What do we need to do when it comes to financing?
The budget proposal from the Commission with 150 million Euros for the initial operations phase (2011-2013) was quite small and amongst all political groups in the European Parliament we recognized the need for more money. Together we managed to more than double the proposed funding to now 316 million Euros. In my report the Parliament also asks the Commission to submit a mid-term financial strategy for GMES in the context of the mid-term review of the current Multi-annual Financial Framework. The Commission should as well submit a long-term financing strategy for the future Multi-annual Financial Framework from 2014 on. For the moment we are waiting for the position of the Council and we will see how we can get an agreement on this question. In the future GMES will be financed by an own budget line; the Commission will come up with a proposal on this in the first semester of 2011.
Can EARSC be integrated into this process and what do we have to do to make appropriate budgets lines in the next Financial Perspective reality?
EARSC will most probably stay in contact with the European Commission that carries out a proposal for the budgets lines in the next Financial Perspective. And I am also happy to stay in contact to get relevant input when we start the work in Parliament on this.
FUTURE & SOCIETY
At the end of the interview, we would like to ask you for your overall recommendations on the future development of the geo-information service sector, and would like to ask to give some hopefully positive messages to the members of EARSC.
I see a huge market potential in the geo-information service sector in the European Union. GMES is a significant project for the benefit of the people in Europe and even other parts of the world. In its various applications I see positive environmental aspects but also an opportunity for the dynamic development of small and medium-sized companies, above all in the earth monitoring and any associated industrial fields. The industry sector should be active, innovative and take risks where necessary. Innovative solutions for existing problems to the benefit of the society will find acceptance and I will do my best to support this and help wherever I can.
Thank you in advance for the elements of contribution to the Interview and for sharing your thoughts and comments with the EOmag readers
Norbert Glante is a German socialist Member of the European Parliament, representing the region of Brandenburg (Germany). After an apprenticeship as electrical engineer and studies in Automation technology he worked several years as Design engineer and Computer scientist before joining politics with the political change in East Germany. Being Chairman of Potsdam district council between 1990 and 1994 he became MEP in 1994 where he is full member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.