It was the first meeting of the ‘EU-US Dialogue on Civil Space Co-operation’, announced at the June 2005 US-EU Summit. On the agenda were a broad range of activities and key policy issues spanning both sides of the Atlantic, including space applications such as Earth Observation (EO), satellite navigation and communications, space transport systems, space science and exploration, and regulatory issues.
“Europe is moving forward,” said Paul Weissenberg, Director of Aerospace, Security, Defence and Equipment at the Commission’s Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General. Speaking directly to his American guests, he said, “Space is now an EU matter. We are making significant progress on our GALILEO satellite navigation initiative, but also on GMES and in many other areas, and we feel it is important that we meet with our American partners now to discuss our common interests and areas where we can work together. We therefore welcome this occasion to discuss and exchange information on concrete space applications for the benefit of our citizens.”
Speaking on behalf of the American delegation, Ralph Braibanti, Director of the Office of Space and Advanced Technology at the US State Department, said, “This is a very interesting moment and we hope that this first meeting and our new relationship will evolve and grow over time. We in the United States are currently working in co-operation with many nations, but we always look to Europe first and we are very enthusiastic about today’s meeting.”
A broad spectrum
Some indication of the breadth of the discussions is given by the variety of participants. Officials on the European side represented the Commission’s Directorates-General of Research, Enterprise and Industry, Information Society, Transport and Energy, External Relations, and the Joint Research Centre (JRC), as well as the European Space Agency (ESA) and EUMETSAT. The US side was represented by officials from the US State Department, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US Geological Survey and the US Mission to the EU.
Luc Tytgat, Head of the EU’s Space Policy Unit, started the programme with a comprehensive outline of what the EU is doing in space, emphasising the EU policy areas. This was followed by a similar review of US space activities presented by the American side, with special attention paid to the fields of remote sensing, space transportation, Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT), and space exploration.
Later in the day, discussions focused on specific areas and applications where joint efforts might prove fruitful. Earth Observation was identified as a field where the potential for co-operation is high, especially within the GMES initiative (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), the European Commission’s flagship space programme. The two sides agreed to explore the potential for co-operation, taking account of political aspects.
This first meeting went a long way towards improving mutual insight into the two sides’ space policies and planned space programmes. The talks took place under a climate of confidence and EU officials say they are looking forward now to facing common EU-US challenges constructively, with a particular view to solving critical future path issues. The two sides have now agreed to continue the dialogue through regular meetings on an annual base. Officials on both sides were positive that this could pave the way for more concrete exchanges in the very near future.
More information at:
- US Dept.of State- Space & Advanced Technologies