“GMES offers an enormous opportunity for industry, and ESA needs
the support of the servicing industry: besides some core services, GMES
will deliver a wealth of data that can be further used by industry to
develop additional value-added services.
Whereas many questions are still open
regarding the financial engagements from Member States and from EC,
there is a danger that everybody watches everybody else, and the more
we wait the more data gaps we will have. This would be very detrimental
to the user confidence we manage to build over the last years regarding
The most important thing today is that ESA needs industry to
consolidate the GMES dossier and convince all our Members States to
proceed and the second thing is to make sure we avoid worsened data
gaps: we should start the development of the GMES space component as
soon as possible!”
Which is the added value for ESA to have an office in Brussels?
In Mr Dordain’s Agenda 2007, a close
relation with the European Union is essential, not only at high level
for strategic discussions, but also on a ‘day to day basis’: our office
in Brussels is a sort of “ESA embassy to the European Institutions”, or
more modestly is the ‘face’ of ESA for staff of the European
institutions. We also represent ESA to all other space-interested
stakeholders present on the Brussels scene. . We offer local support to
all ESA staff on mission in Brussels and accompany them as required in
their contacts with the EU people.
How is the typical agenda of an ESA representative at this office in Brussels?
are two types of activities. Firstly, we are of course dealing with the
European institutions themselves: we have very regular meetings with
the Commission at all levels, ranging for example from technical
meetings with the GMES Programme Office, up to high-level institutional
meetings such as the Joint EC-ESA secretariat for space matters. We
also meet with European Parliament, COREPER, etc. And we digest the
available information from the Union to the benefit of the Director
General and of ESA staff, most probably like most of other
representation offices in Brussels do. Secondly, we take the advantage
of having many groups and institutions represented in Brussels or
visiting the EU institutions, to meet with space stakeholders from over
all Europe, and even overseas. I can quote the example of the Space
Week during last February, which offered the opportunity to meet with
representatives of non European Space Agencies whom you could normally
not reach so easily together.
By the way, I invite the EARSC members,
when they have to meet with ESA, to think about using our office in
Brussels, as a convenient, easy to reach, meeting place!
Which is the model of cooperation set
out in the framework agreement between ESA and the European Community?
and in the EU treaty?
The Framework agreement is in force since
May 2004, for a period of four years, and can be further extended. It
is built on the idea that Commission represents the ‘user’ side for all
EC policies and that ESA can represent the offer when these user needs
can be matched by space developments.
The Commission has a privileged position to defend certain needs or
interests that cannot be so easily defended at the level of the Member
States. It is why it is important for ESA to have a good working
framework defined with the EC, on top of our well defined role to serve
the Member States, as laid in the ESA Convention.
Regarding GMES, ESA is now discussing
with the user communities and with EC since 1998 to try to reproduce
for the operational environmental and security monitoring more or less
what the user communities, EUMETSAT and ESA have achieved for space
Given the European dimension of the addressed problems and policies,
the principle of the Framework agreement can naturally apply: EC
represents the demand and ESA the space offer.
By proposing a shared competence on space
for the Union, the Constitutional Treaty would offer an even more
interesting ground for cooperation with the EU. It is clear however
that in absence of this new Treaty, the Community will continue, like
in the past – see for examples Vegetation on Spot-4, Galileo and the
space elements under FP 6 – to invest in space infrastructure and space
Again, this ratification of the Constitutional Treaty and the existence
of the EC-ESA Framework agreement are quite independent of each other.
During the last 30 years, Europe has
developed its presence in space, thanks to ambitious national policies
and the European Space Agency (ESA), how should industry understand the
actual partnership between the Commission and ESA?
When it comes to applications and to the
use of data, the servicing industry – like your EARSC members – should
be very happy about this partnership. If this partnership works, and we
of course all are working to that end, it will mean that more data and
more basic services can be used by industry to develop new markets. The
problem for industry to invest into services is the same as for users
entities to use these: can we guarantee tomorrow the sustainability of
the space monitoring systems and the availability of data? Again, the
model experienced for the space operational meteorology is a good one:
when developing a new operational system, EUMETSAT is planning for a
guaranteed lifetime of at least 15 years. This is quite a relaxing
environment for all people interested in developing services! Our goal
is to do the same for GMES, by a EU-ESA partnership that can be further
extended to other interested parties.
Now, we must be also clear that Member
States and EC will most probably reserve their available funding to the
deployment of the monitoring capacity and of some core services for
GMES, mainly of interest to the public institutions. It means in turn
that industry will have a fantastic opportunity but also will face a
certain risk to invest on its own in new services, for public
institutions, industry and the citizens.
EC FP or ESA investment will continue to be available for new service
developments, but obviously cannot cover all types of service provision
Without getting too involved with the
actual European Policy and ratification Treaty, what are your thoughts
on which may affect seriously to the European Space budget?
Space actors do not totally depend on the
ratification of the Treaty; like we said before, the Commission, and
other EU institutions by the way, would continue to invest in space
tools and applications. Of course with the new Treaty you could expect
to have a new budget line specific for the space competence: the
European Parliament proposed to reserve some budget in the EU financial
perspectives, to that effect.
How will Earth Observation be affected
by the next Ministerial Council (the meeting of Ministerial-level
representatives from ESA‘s member states)?
To simplify, we have basically two main ESA
programmes in Earth Observation domain. The first one is the Earth
Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP), which goes to the Ministerial
for a third period, with an approximate budget of 1.5 Billion € over
the years 2008-2012. This programme is the backbone of all ESA Earth
Observation development. Without that programme we could not be
prepared to build new satellites; we could not develop the ground
segment; we could not support science or prepare for operational
services. EOEP is financed by ESA Members States. The European
Commission is not contributing to this programme but is very interested
in the supported science and in the potential applications, for example
through the RTD framework programme and the activities of various
institutions and agencies such as JRC, EMSA, EUSC, …. . The second
programme to be approved to the Ministerial is the GMES Space
Component, a programme that is of the order of 2 Billion € and spans
the 2006-2012 period. The Commission and Members States agreed in
principle on this programme but we are facing the fact that the EU
financial perspectives for 2007-2013 are not yet approved. To
circumvent this problem, ESA is proposing a phased programme with a
checkpoint in 2007, when we know for sure the level of budget made
available by the EU and the practical arrangements between EC and ESA
to sue this money. We can also at that time fine-tune the some
specifications for the space capacity to be developed.
GMES will be on the process of
expanding its services beyond Europe. Could you tell us a bit more
about the level for these international relations?Are the GMES targets
not ambitious enough?
There are several points in your question;
the ‘raison d’être’ for GMES was to offer an autonomous and operational
access to Europe to the strategic information in environment and
security. This doesn’t mean that we should develop all the monitoring
capacity by ourselves, but at least that we should be able to have
different guaranteed data sources, and certainly an independent
capacity to interpret these data.
On the other hand, GMES is our ticket to
enter in the cooperation with other space-fairing nations. As such,
part of the GMES monitoring capacity will be a European contribution to
Another answer to your question is that public organisations in Europe
– let’s quote humanitarian, food security, development agencies,
institutions dealing in economic cooperation – will be able to offer
services to overseas partners of Europe. The European industry will
also extent their serving market outside Europe.
We again have an opportunity since Europe
tries to position itself as a environmental champion so we can be well
placed to define reporting standards, for example for national Kyoto
inventories and reporting, sustainable forest certifications, etc.
The very fact that we could through GMES
partly check the national reporting for international environmental
conventions is bringing more confidence in this reporting procedure.
Do you believe that ESA and EU are making sufficient efforts towards the citizen? How can this process be enhanced?
Under the ESA programme “GMES Service
element”, industry and public institutions are developing operational
services for GMES. These services might not be really revolutionary
because we aim here at providing mature and robust services. In
directly ‘servicing’ the citizen, for example, the “Promote” project
warns registered citizens, by “sms”, about the local exposure to poor
air quality. However, in lost of the cases for GMES services, ESA
depends on so-called ‘Legally Mandated Organization’, which are the
officially mandates relay to disseminate higher-level services to third
parties and to the citizens. Let’s think about national meteorological
institutes, as an example, or regional, local environmental agencies.
We need to further convince the professional sector to recognise the
value in their own commercial practices of the GMES products and
services. Media coverage is also important and recent examples about
space-tracked terrain subsidence in Northern Italy and in London, and
major pollution events over the Netherlands have reached national
broadcast audience. Alongside industry, citizens must be convinced too
and lobby the political level!
On EARSC behalf and personally I would like to thank you for your very interesting comments.
What are your thoughts related to the recent Space Council meeting?
The European Space Council has been a very
successful meeting where the European Commission’s Communication on the
preliminary elements of a European space policy was discussed. The EU
will identify user needs and build a political will around them, and
they will take the lead in areas where applications are concerned. ESA
and its Member and Cooperating States will develop future space
technologies and systems and pursue excellence in space-based
scientific research. So ESA has a leading function in science,
technology and infrastructure, but also for those applications where
ESA is the implementing Agency on behalf of the European Union. During
the meeting, everybody around the table supported the proposal of
Commissioner Verheugen and the Director General of ESA, Mr. Dordain,
that GMES will be the next flagship programme in the cooperation
between the European Commission and ESA following Galileo. This is a
very positive and encouraging perspective for Earth Observation and we
are working now on the implementation of this approach.
Space is a mixed sector, with a public
political strategy on the one hand and major industrial interests on
the other. How is this duality integrated in the ESA Earth Observation
Well, we cannot really distinguish between
the Earth Observation sector and other space sectors on this question
and of course there are some specialities. First of all, the space
agenda is driven by a programmatic goal, showing for example a priority
for GMES. But we have also to continue to strengthen the technological
base in industry. We have in ESA the Earth Observation Envelope
Programme (EOEP) and this is the programme where we develop the next
generation of technologies through scientific missions. On the other
hand, we have the European industry and all the industrial interests.
So first of all, we have to make sure that we have in Europe all
technological capabilities necessary to maintain and develop a strong
industrial base in all strategic areas. And Earth Observation is indeed
such a strategic sector. If we are successful with the two new
programmes, the Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP) and GMES,
both of which will be proposed to the next Ministerial conference of
ESA in December, then we will have created a substantial framework to
further develop the European industry. And that is true both for space
infrastructure industry which will build up the space segment but also
for the value adding industry which is working downstream and is
creating additional value.
What will be the impact of possible new
alliances of space companies on the competitiveness of European space
industry? How does this affect the EO market?
A concentration process is taking place where the big companies are
merging into even bigger ones. Thus, in the private sector in Europe we
practically have only two big private consortia (namely EADS and the
Finmeccanica-Alcatel consortium). To a certain extent, this of course
is limiting competition in Europe. On the other hand, this
concentration is necessary to be more competitive in the global scale.
I am looking forward to see how this will develop.
How will this affect SME?
Smaller companies have to be careful to
find their place, because in this type of mergers, there is a tendency
of vertical integration driven by the big prime industry. However,
there are two or three companies now in Europe that can even compete in
a prime function with the big companies and this is a healthy
situation, because it creates additional competition. ESA sees it as
the task and duty to ensure that the small companies, which are often
in the field of applied sciences, can develop and find their place in
the world market. The ESA industrial policy has procedures called “best
practices of projects” where contracts are also awarded to non-primes.
We are also assisting them to develop capabilities.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges the commercial earth observation industry is facing in 2005?
The down turn of the commercial market, especially in the communication
sector, and the effect of this on the launcher market, has led to
industry being in a very difficult situation. Of course this did not
start only in 2005 but some 2 or 3 years ago. So we feel, and this is
also the policy of the Director General of ESA, that we need urgent
programme decisions. Therefore the Ministerial conference in December
is necessary because this decision for future programmes will ensure
that the market can develop. In Earth Observation we have even the
chance to implement a major new field. If we are successful with GMES
we would have a second sector of Earth Observation in addition to
meteorology that goes into an operational phase and this would
significantly stimulate the whole Earth Observation industrial sector.
Could you describe to us where ESA stands on the user market?
Part of the Earth Observation Envelope
Programme is an element to develop the value adding market. In
addition, ESA has spent more than 80 M€ in the last years to develop
the 12 GMES Service Element projects. This has been done with industry.
So far, about 220 user organisations are using GMES services through
these projects. If we succeed with GMES, the downstream user market
will be put in a strong position to open up new markets, both in Europe
and at global level.
What do you think about what‘s being
done at government level in Europe? Some Members States are adopting an
increased budget for space applications? What about for GMES?
Member States are currently evaluating
their priorities in preparation for the ministerial conference. Most,
if not all, have expressed that GMES is a priority for Europe. I
therefore would expect that GMES would be well supported despite a
generally tight budget, in particular for the biggest Member States of
ESA. Although it is always difficult to start a new programme like
GMES, I am confident that the Members States will recognise the
strategic, industrial and political importance of GMES and support the
ESA space component accordingly.
Have you noticed any new interest in GMES beyond its current stakeholder community?
GMES is driven by European policy
priorities and its corresponding user community. We have a user
community for GMES services in the European Commission. For example,
the environmental sector, agriculture, food security, maritime
security, crisis management, humanitarian aid are among the services
using satellite-based maps. In these services there is a services
interest in the international area. We are developing new services for
international organisations, such as the F.A.O. where we can support
the food programme with space data evaluating very early in the season
how agricultural crop growth develops in order to prepare decision
makers for an eventual crisis. For example in Africa we have done this
analysis three times now. We also support other UN agencies. If natural
disasters happen, we develop services in the crisis management area
using satellite images, and provide them to UN organisations such as
UNOSAT, UNOOSA or UNEP.
ESA is committed to sustainable
development initiatives in developing countries: what concrete progress
in market development can industry expect?
In this sector, the market follows user
interests to a certain extent. But ESA, however, has taken an
initiative to demonstrate, together with industry and the space
agencies, what can be done in this field and which are the services to
be developed. For example the TIGER project is running in Africa with
application projects in almost all countries. The TIGER project is
implementing some of the recommendations of the World Summit on
Sustainable Development, WSSD, which took place in 2002 in
Johannesburg. If methods are developed then of course also the market
develops. For example if the administrations and governments in these
countries develop a new method based on satellite data and if the
method is successful and cost saving, then governments will choose
these new EO-based services.
Could you provide me with inputs for a two-fold scenario of
space sustainability using space applications? (actors, roles,
is an important issue, not question, and I think that more and more
space based methods are used at least for other project management
services in order to reach the sustainability of activities. In the
environment this is obvious. On the other hand, using space
applications for sustainability only can be done if the space sector is
sustainable and stable enough that it can deliver and activate this
service, so there is a big dependence. Regarding the actors, of course
there is a close relation to governments. Therefore there is a public
demand in this area. It is important to guarantee a certain continuity
of services, otherwise the public sector will not invest in introducing
them. This is especially true for developing countries, where
space-based applications may be even more needed than in developed
countries. In this context, important players are international aid
programmes inside the UN system as well as the European Union or other
governmental and non-governmental organisations.
How is the European research programme going to include ESA‘s objectives in the space sector?
Well, first of all, I should say that we
are developing a common view with the European Union and with the ESA
and EU Members States. Therefore, when it comes to the EU and ESA, I
see a common programme that is coming up, not only in the technology
sector but also in selected future activities like Galileo and GMES,
and maybe in others. Nowadays we are discussing the space technology
programme with the EU. The debates are reflected in the orientation
paper of the last Space Council, developing a common space programme
for Europe. All the Member States include their national programmes, so
I think one idea of the common activities and the cooperation is to
make all the space activities in Europe more efficient because so far
we are not yet fully there. We still have a lot of national programmes
in Europe that are duplicating activities. On the other hand, Space is
a strategic issue and comparing Europe for example with the US, we are
in danger of losing ground in the most important technology areas.
Therefore, we have to combine our efforts. We still have many national
capabilities in parallel. We cannot afford to have redundant activities
in Members States with systems that already exist. There is some area
for improvement, which, of course, depends on the willingness of the
national space agencies and their correspondent governments, and their
willingness to focus on a European approach. I certainly feel that this
is absolutely necessary and we need to combine and to concentrate
developments and to fill other gaps with the remaining capacities.
How do you see the future in terms of
coordination with the European Institutions (EU, ESA, etc), the network
of technical centres and the cooperation with industry?
Well, as I said, the Council confirmed that
European space policy should include a true European space strategy, a
space programme reflecting the associated costs and funding sources as
well as a commitment by the main contributors as to their roles and
responsibilities. It is important that space has found a political
voice in the European Commission and that the EC will be a driver for
the applications domain in space. ESA will be the European implementing
Agency for European space programmes. ESA will use the European
capabilities in the member states including the network of technical
centres. We have of course to become more efficient in Europe, so we
have to make a trade off in the future between the “efficiency” and
maintaining redundancies. This is also true for industry. At the end, I
think industry and governments will benefit from the new cooperation in
On EARSC behalf and personally I would like to thank you for your time on this interview.
- 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