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EC-EUROPA Kopernikus



What is Kopernikus ?

Kopernikus is a European initiative, formerly called Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES), which uses satellites and other sensors on the ground, floating in the water or flying through the air to monitor our natural environment as well as keeping an eye on the security of every citizen.

The information provided by Kopernikus will help us understand better how and in what way our planet may be changing, why this is happening, and how this might influence our daily lives. In this way, Kopernikus will improve people’s safety in many ways, such as by providing early warnings on natural disasters such as forest fires or floods, thus helping prevent the loss of lives and large-scale damage to property.

Kopernikus also presents a clear potential for commercial applications in many different sectors by providing earth observation data for free to anybody who might have a use for them. Kopernikus will help us improve the management of our natural resources, monitor the quality of our waters and air, plan our cities and prevent urban sprawl, ease the flow of transportation, optimise our agricultural activities, promote renewable energy, etc. Clearly, Kopernikus has the potential to significantly improve the living conditions of our generation and the generation of our children.

Besides affecting our daily lives, Kopernikus will provide vital information to decision-makers and business operators that rely on strategic information with regard to environmental, e.g. climate change and adaptation, or security issues.

The infrastructures needed to collect the observations based on which Kopernikus services are produced are owned and operated either by international, European or national entities with their respective political and/or financial responsibilities. Kopernikus aims to coordinate all levels of these infrastructures relevant for delivery of such information at European level.

Kopernikus is an initiative driven by the needs of its users, and the information it provides is a public good. An indirect return of investment can be expected through the creation of a large downstream service market, which will grow and flourish provided that a long-term commitment to the Kopernikus programme is secured

Who was Kopernikus ?

Nikolaus Kopernikus was a famous astronomer born in the Hanseatic city of Thorn in the Kingdom of Poland (today Toruń), who greatly advanced the scientific understanding of his time by postulating that Earth revolves around the sun. “His works and the current initiative therefore have a fundamental thing in common: improving the knowledge about our planet,” says Vice-President Verheugen. “Kopernikus also was a true European: his family was partly German, partly Polish. He wrote in Latin and German and studied, lived and worked in several different countries in Europe.”

He observed the space from the Earth when articulating his heliocentric theory and laying down grounds of the modern cosmology. Today the initiative carrying his name uses satellites which observe the Earth from the space. We wish to honour the great European with our ambitious initiative.

What is the difference between Galileo and Kopernikus ?

Galileo and Kopernikus are complementary systems making use of satellite technologies. Both systems have their strategic value as each of them has its own mission, which do not overlap.

Galileo is essentially a ‘navigation’ system providing a permanent and more accurate than ever positioning and timing services worldwide. Kopernikus is an ‘Earth observation’ system providing information on the state of our environment and improving the security of our citizens.

There are other Earth-observation systems. What is the added value of Kopernikus ?

Earth-observation based services already exist in Europe, but they are dispersed at national or regional level, they are mostly not coordinated between each other and, except for weather services, they cannot guarantee the long-term service availability and sustainability that Kopernikus will provide. Further, in order to respond to ever growing challenges of global safety and to develop strategic policy options e.g. for climate change, Europe needs a well-coordinated, fully reliable Earth observation system of its own. Kopernikus is that system.

What is at stake with Kopernikus ?

Initially developed as a scientific project ten years ago, Kopernikus needs to evolve into a fully mature operational stage. This evolution has three requirements: a specific and sustainable operational funding programme, a robust governance structure and relevant data policies and legislation. Preventing the development of Kopernikus would undoubtedly cause a substantial opportunity cost for Europe, both in terms of money waste and loss of worldwide influence in such a strategic area.

Kopernikus Services

The Kopernikus initiative comprises a group of vertical services aimed at monitoring Earth sub-systems (land, ocean, and atmosphere) and horizontal services addressing emergency and security issues. See the general presentation of the available services or access by clicking the links below.

For an overview of Kopernikus services click here

For direct access to the services click on the links below
Land Monitoring Core Service
Marine Core Service
Atmosphere Core Service
Emergency Response Core Service
Security Service
More info on Kopernikus services

Observational Infrastructure

The Kopernikus initiative federates a wide range of observational networks and data providers, exploiting the most recent observation techniques and technologies, for developing edge-cutting information products to end-users. In principle, the Kopernikus observational infrastructure composes of two main components.

Space infrastructure
The space component shall ensure sustainable provision of satellite derived Earth observation data to all Kopernikus services. The architecture of the component is derived from service requirements provided by the user communities. ESA and EUMETSAT are two main European actors in this area who should play the major role in co-ordination, implementation and operational running of the infrastructure.

European Space Agency

In-situ infrastructure
The in situ component is based on an observation infrastructure owned and operated by the large number of stakeholders coordinated, in some cases, in the frame of European or international networks. In situ observation activities and associated infrastructure derive from a range of national, EU and international regulatory requirements and agreements or form part of research processes. None was created to meet the needs of Kopernikus, and they cover a much wider field than the Kopernikus services. By this reason European Environmental Agency was appointed to co-ordinate the consolidation of in-situ networks for Kopernikus purposes.

European Environmental Agency

Key Documents

-COM 565 Final – Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: GMES: From concept to reality PDF
-COM 65 Final – Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Establishing a GMES capacity by 2008 – (Action plan 2004-2008) PDF
-COM 609 Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Outline GMES EC Action Plan (Initial period: 2001-2003) PDF
-DIRECTIVE 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2007, establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) PDF
-COM 46 Final – Communication from the Commission: Towards a Shared Environmental Information System PDF

More reference documents to be found here

Funding opportunities

* FP7 call for proposals
* Regions for economic change

Space Research

In focus:
* Second FP7 Space Call
* Critical technologies


Space Policy

Europe needs an effective space policy that will allow the EU to take global leadership in selected strategic policy areas. Space can provide the tools to address many of the global challenges that face 21st century society: challenges that Europe must take a leading role in addressing.

The adoption of the European Space Policy communication and its endorsement by the joint European Space Council in the Spring of 2007 gives Europe its first agreed space policy.

More info