On June,12, 2008 the EARSC Directors Paul Kamoun, Nick Faller, Andre Jadot and Marcello Ricottilli accompanied by Franz Jaskolla had the opportunity to discuss the status and evolution of GMES with Vice-President Verheugen (Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry) who was accompanied by Francisco Gaztelu (Member of the Cabinet) and Apostolia Karamali (DG ENTR, GMES Bureau). Vice-president Verheugen expressed his interest to hear the views of EARSC as industry representative of a sector with high growth potential – he also expressed his full commitment to GMES as programme to develop the geo-information service industry and ensured that he is always open to talk with us.
The following topics were discussed:
• Budget situation – Mr. Verheugen explained that budgets outside of research will be made available only after 2013. However, he stressed that a significant increase of operational budget through Preparatory Actions is under preparation with the EP and Member States. Our offer to support the identification / selection of a PA in 2009 with focus on land was received positively.
• Governance – our concerns for the up to now missing governance structures and the resulting slowing down of already existing opportunities were accepted and reference was made to the coming Communication on GMES. EARSC was invited to provide a statement on the basis of the current status of the governance paper.
• “Unfair” competition – Mr. Verheugen was interested to learn about our concerns regarding unfair competition to industry from research or public entities offering operational services in competitive tenders and benefiting from advantageous cost structures e.g. no overhead. He promised to take care of it.
• SME’s and FP funding – on the basis of presented examples (e.g. financial auditing processes, delay in grant payment), he explained that it is a task of DG ENTR to create a sensible environment for the industry and in particular SME’s. He also declared that he advises his staff in DG ENTR to interpret the existing funding guidelines constructively.
• Participation of EARSC in programme preparation activities – Mr. Gaztelu in harmonization with the Space and Aeronautics Unit of DG ENTR shall propose for which of the particular Committees to prepare future programmes EARSC shall be nominated as service industry representation. Mr. Verheugen mentioned the GAC and the ‘Implementation Groups’ as possible organizations in which EARSC could be present.
• Stakeholders – Mr. Verheugen mentioned the positive role that the ‘Committee of the Regions’ could play as a stakeholder in the GMES-program and as a link towards the Member States and the Regions. EARSC should get in contact with this Committee.