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EARSC Views on the Procurement of the Copernicus Services

The Copernicus programme has the defined goal to generate economic growth and jobs in the European, EO services, downstream sector. This will require efforts to ensure that European industry is well-placed firstly to deliver the Copernicus Services1, so gathering the appropriate skills and competences, and secondly to exploit these in new markets for commercial and export customers.

Only by exploiting and continuously developing the skills and competences in the private sector can the programme targets be met. However, industry is concerned that the procurement approach for the Copernicus Services will not fully enable this to happen and considers that, unless appropriate policies are put into place, the opportunity may be limited or even lost.

The nature and scale of the services to be procured are unlike any other procurement action in Europe. The mix of European scale and national interest will be a challenge to manage as will be the interests of the various stakeholders including industry. The European Commission intends to delegate procurement authority and budget to a number of distinct “Entrusted Entities”, all of which have a different set of skills, technical competences and budgetary situations. Without clear guidance and imposed rules, it seems unlikely that the private sector, and especially SME’s, will become fully engaged and able to grow the downstream business sector.

A first priority is to ensure that the procurement of the Copernicus services can take benefit from all European strengths; in both public and private sectors as well as in academia. Each actor has an appropriate role to play and by doing so can help deliver on the EU objectives. The rules by which Copernicus Services will be procured will have a strong influence over the exploitation potential of the programme. Without specific measures to enable companies to lead and to participate to the maximum extent possible in the supply of Copernicus services, the necessary skills and competences will not be available to allow industry to develop and access new markets.

Hence, we consider that measures still need to be taken to harmonise the procurement of Copernicus Services by the Entrusted Entities which will act under the responsibility of the European Commission. We are strongly concerned to see that the key arrangements, i.e. the delegation agreements and the framework through which they will operate, are appropriately defined to maximise the commercial service provision and fully enable commercial exploitation. We believe that a partnership approach with industry is necessary and we are fully ready to work to achieve this. In this paper, we address the issues and make some specific proposals for measures which should be taken to overcome the barriers.

Position Paper