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Editorial Summer 2011

June is the time when EARSC holds the annual General Assembly so meeting the statutory requirements. This year, we had a very busy day on 30th June with a morning seminar on GMES and Space Policy following the AGM itself and then an afternoon looking at the EO services market and factors that are driving its evolution. I believe that those attending would agree that it was a very fruitful day with a lot of discussions going on as well as debate around the presentations that were made. Presentations and the reports by myself and the treasurer are available to EARSC members.

Within the seminar on GMES and the future space policy, we heard from ESA regarding their proposals on data policy from Sentinels and then from the European Commission (Dg Clima and DG Enterprise) and from the European Parliament (Karl von Wogau) who all emphasised how important GMES would be towards meeting international obligations for environment and security as well as meeting internal European needs for geo-information.

These discussions took place the day after the EC had published its proposals for the next multi-annual financial framework (MFF) in which it put future operational funding for GMES outside of the proposed budget. The main concern seems to be the ability of EC budgets to cope with projects that overspend and overrun. In which case, it seems to be a particularly curious message to be sending that Galileo – after all its difficulties of funding and timescales – should be considered inside the MFF and yet GMES that is running to cost and to budget should be outside. What this means is more uncertainty for our industry until a firmer funding basis can be established because at the moment, there is no agreed funding for GMES beyond 2013. At a stroke, GMES has been placed into the same situation that has been so problematic in moving Galileo forward.

It also seems to cast doubt upon European ambitions in space policy. After years of striving to offer a stronger political dimension to space policy, the EC declines to take the lead by funding its 2nd flagship project preferring instead to throw the ball back to Member States. GMES is a project which is constructed on the basis of real, EU user’s needs but will we return to a situation where it is down to multi-international efforts funded through ESA? There should be some interesting discussions amongst ministers in December.

EARSC has a position paper on this subject that at the time of writing is still under review but which should be public by the time that eomag is published.

Onto lighter subjects, I am very pleased that Tony Bigio of the World Bank has accepted to provide the eomag interview this quarter. I met Tony when I visited Washington with ESA in April and I am sure there is a lot that EARSC and the WB can do together. Tony points to the strong potential for an uptake of product use within WB projects and that the 12 Eoworld projects launched by ESA in the spring can offer very valuable success stories. Eopages will provide a tool to promote these to the WB as well as other customers as well as giving potential users within the WB a tool to find their partners. We shall be looking to take this and other ideas further over the next 6 to 12 months.

Finally, I am pleased to welcome 2 new directors to the EARSC board. The board works hard on your behalf, giving me direction (and correction!) and representing members in key meetings, conferences, workshops etc. It is a very important role that they play on behalf of the industry sector and I wish Stephane Israel (Astrium Geo-information Services) and Noel Parmentier (Eurosense) every success. A word of thanks also to Michael Prechtel (Rapideye) who has taken on the challenging task as EARSC treasurer replacing Andre Jadot who has successfully managed the EARSC accounts for many years. We wish all great success in their new roles.

Wishing you a good summer!
Geoff Sawyer
EARSC Secretary General

PDF: articles-1566-editorial-summer-2011