- Thank you for taking out time from your busy agenda and especially
for opening the first issue of the EARSC Newsletter. The Earth and
Space week was an unprecedented event, gathering various space related
activities, among which was an Earth Observation Industry Summit. What
is the opinion of the Space Policy Unit about the involvement of the
Space Industry during that week?
We had not initially considered an Industry Summit as part of the Earth
and Space week, but we saw so much interest from the private sector for
the event that we thought that it was our role to help industry to
express their views and expose their general objectives. It was an
excellent opportunity to have the private and public sector discussing
at the same place, at the same time, on the same topics of the space
dossier. This was also for us a success, because the number of
attendees assembled in such a short time has demonstrated a high level
of interest. We believe industry participation was effective and
- Space has become a crucial component for implementing the European
Objectives and policies, notably sustainable development, environmental
protection, mobility, emerging security or information society. How do
you see the contribution of the Earth Observation Industry to European
development in the changing scenario of the enlarged European Union?
This is a critical role that industry has to play, because we know that
in Europe we will never have the same level of resources that the
United States can mobilise for space activities. Anything done in
Europe in the space field has to be discussed with the private sector.
Industry should be a key actor in the definition of applications and
the design of different space solutions. Typically there will be
other missions in the spirit of the Galileo approach of a
Public/Private Partnership. Space industry in Europe is seen as a key
actor to support growth and competitiveness, which are the pillars of
the Lisbon Strategy.
- The infrastructure costs for space and ground segments in EO
systems are expensive, so it makes sense for the governments to share
costs with the private sector where possible. How do you see the
public/private partnership (equal shares of commercial and government
This scheme could be easy, if of course, we have a general
understanding of who is doing what. We believe that if we want to
deploy satellites aimed at strategic public services, the technological
risk, for example, should be on the governmental side. This was the
case for Galileo, but could also be true for Earth Observation. So the
first element will be that the governmental side is paying the research
activities and basic technology development. Then when validation is
complete, the private sector should take responsibility and consider
the best way to implement the technology since it has more experience
than the public sector to deploy infrastructure to operate and what is
more important, to generate revenues. A typical example is when you are
constructing an airport, where you have a strategic policy, investment
in infrastructure, maintenance of infrastructure and on the other side
income from landing fees and from the shops and services which make
money from the passengers outside the plane. There are many
different models in Europe for dividing these responsibilities between
government and private companies, from concessions to outright
privatisation. We have to find for each GMES service the right
financial structure and the appropriate role for the private sector.
- Could you please define the role of industry between, among
others; contributing funding, sustainable development, security,
expertise, process efficiency, value-extraction, technology growth,
It is not only one role; it is contributing funding and deploying the
infrastructure to obtain a return. Industry has good expertise in terms
of finding the best synergy of technologies and certainly for
technology transfer. I think it is a mix of almost all of this and it
is not only black and white.
- The European Commission is making a great effort for a European
Space Programme. Based on your personal encounters with national
decision makers, how important is the dialogue between industry and
government national delegates?
There must be some new platform for discussion, this does not exist
yet. Very often it happens that when a space programme is undertaken by
the space agencies or by different administrations, then industry is
expected just to react. We believe we should have a new approach
establishing platforms for dialogue between what industry can offer
versus the government perceived needs. When we design new technology
solutions, space solutions, it is never clear what is the offer, what
is feasible, where the risk is and so on. For example in the Framework
Programmes, on the EU side, when we consider a new programme, we try to
have this initial consultation. It is necessary to see the response of
industry on available capabilities. In short we need to have a platform
where the two sides find a forum to discuss, where the services and the
product are meeting at the same level.
- Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) will be the
European contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems
(GEOSS), aiming to establish a global environmental monitoring system.
What is the EU role in the development and implementation of GEOSS?
On the implementation itself, it is clear that, with the GMES
discussions the Commission has initiated with the Member States and
with ESA, the European side will offer GMES as the contribution to the
ten years implementation plan of GEOSS. By saying this we mean that the
EU will have the possibility for a collective European response to the
plan. This is one of the main EU contributions, assembling a collective
contribution of infrastructure for the European and for the African
regions. And there is another contribution: it is clear that Europe has
already the capacity to have privileged discussions with different
partner countries in order to have an unified coordinated approach for
the different African countries. Such discussions have already taken
place and the PUMA and AMESD projects have demonstrated that it is
feasible, that Europeans provide the space segment whilst Africans are
the users and provide ground segment elements. It was possible with EU
funding from the European aid and development funds.
- GMES is an ideal instrument for international co-operation, what
do you think are the most important areas for international cooperation
in earth observation applications inside GEOSS?
GMES is designed to satisfy the European citizen’s needs and to support
EU policies. However it is true that the Galileo programme has been
opened to third party participation, and this concept could be reused
for GMES; we believe that Europe should propose to such countries to
construct an offer along the GMES approach. We have seen that already
with the Russians and the Ukrainians, who want to offer capacities they
have in order to reinforce the space segment. This can also be true for
the ground segment; it is also obvious that if we have satellites
operational in orbit and a country wants to help to develop the ground
segment, this is fine. First it will aid the credibility of the
European approach; secondly offer to European industry a market outside
Europe; and thirdly help to develop common standards. Standards must be
a priority: they are nowadays a critical point. When EU invests in
programmes such as Galileo or GMES, industry must think of standards
from the very beginning. This will help not only the users, but also
industry to cooperate to develop a cheaper solution.
- What are the most important steps that must be taken over the next five years to make the GMES system a reality?
To have GMES becoming a reality, we will need a consensus in Europe
on what should be the services to be supported; this is the first
condition and how they could be operated and funded in the long term.
The second condition is to have a management structure which enables
the assembling of the different components under the same architecture.
So today we have Member State investment in their own Earth Observation
satellites, we have ESA developing also technological satellites (like
Envisat) and we have also Eumetsat. What is missing today is to have
all the components supervised by a single authority, which then can
allow saving of resources. It can also promote interoperability of the
ground segment, and therefore reduce the (management) cost of the
investments, thus permitting a lower cost for access to image data. The
third element is of course to know who can be the operators.
- Will there be a public outreach and education plan to promote the potential benefits of GMES and GEOSS to the society?
There is a socio-economic study initiated, now managed by the European
Space Agency with support of the Commission. The study is trying to
identify what will be the socio-economic benefits from GMES, so the
intention is to identify what are the benefits for the society. The
study started in February and we expect to have the first results this
- What are the DG ENTR Priorities for the upcoming months?
The priorities for the forthcoming months are quite clear. We have
to secure and to have a clear definition of what is the European Space
policy what the content is, what the roles of the different parties are
and, more important, what are the priorities. It is important that we
have those questions answered, especially on space policy, because then
we can draft the space programme. This must be complete before end of
2005. This is a key goal for DG Enterprise. It is in the work plan of
the Directorate General and it has been endorsed by the Commission; it
is also part of the legislative programme of the Commission. We must
have all the legal and managerial instruments in place by the time the
new Financial Perspectives come into force, along with the Seventh
Framework Programme. All in all, 2005 is a critical year for European