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European Commission Outlines Top Space Priorities

BRUSSELS -The European Space Agency (ESA), the European Union and EU member states must work more closely, a top European Commission official said to Defense News Oct. 4.

That’s because member states have the civilian and military assets that neither the commission nor ESA have, said Paul Weissenberg, the European Commission’s director for space, security and global monitoring for environment and security (GMES).

Discussions are heating up over what the EU will do with its new competence in space policy, given to it by Article 189 of the Lisbon Treaty. The article allows the EU “promote joint initiatives, support research and technological development and coordinate the efforts needed for the exploration and exploitation of space.”

The EU needs to build on the European Space Agency’s research and development efforts, Weissenberg said at a conference on Europe and space security organized by the French think tank Ifri, or Institut Francais des Relations Internationales.

EU members “need space to achieve the EU’s political objectives – security, defense, environment, climate change – are all areas where space can helps us,” he said.

Weissenberg outlined the EU’s top space priorities: the Galileo navigation system, which he described as “a credibility test”; GMES; an autonomous space situational awareness system; space and climate change research; and exploration.

Asked about EU-NATO cooperation, Claude-France Arnould, the EUs deputy director-general from the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate, said, “Space has not been identified as a short-term deliverable between the EU and NATO.”