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European Ministers deliberate on discovery and competitiveness

Dec 2005 : ESA PR 57-2005. The Ministers responsible for space in the European Space Agency‘s 17 Member States and Canada concluded a two-day meeting of ESA‘s ruling Council in Berlin by deciding on a coherent plan for discovery and competitiveness for Europe in space.
accordingly endorsed the continuation of a set of ongoing programmes
and agreed to undertake major new initiatives designed to give Europe a
clear vision and tangible means to further strengthen its space
exploration and exploitation activities. They emphasised the need for
Europe to maintain a competitive space sector able to lead the search
for new discoveries, guarantee access to strategic data and new
services, and consolidate its share of the global commercial market.
Ministers appreciated the efforts made to heighten European citizens’
awareness of space activities and their benefits, thanks in particular
to the success of recent European scientific missions such as Huygens
and Mars Express. These missions, together with a series of successful
Ariane 5 launches, have confirmed once again that combined European
skills and efforts enable Europe to succeed in the most challenging of
enterprises and achieve a level of excellence for discovery and
innovation in the global arena.
The Ministers also noted the increase in the volume and quality of the
Agency’s relations with its international partners. They recognised
that the global scenario in the space sector is evolving rapidly, in
particular with increasing numbers of players mastering major space
technologies and offering competitive conditions for civil and dual-use
The Ministers reaffirmed the strategic
importance of Europe continuously improving its scientific,
technological and industrial capabilities in the field of space so as
to enable it to better respond to the expectations of its citizens
concerning the environment, quality of life and security. They noted
that European industry has encountered difficulties in recent years,
resulting from a significant downturn on the commercial market as well
as the competition from industries operating on the basis of lower
production costs; they also took note of the measures taken by industry
to improve its position, through difficult reorganisation and
concentration processes which have led to a reduction in the volume and
distribution of European capabilities.
A major political step was achieved with
the approval of an overall European launcher policy ensuring coherence
between the launcher and satellite fields.
The Ministers recognised that it is crucial to continuously foster
European cooperation on space activity by further developing an overall
European Space Policy encompassing ESA, the EU, plus national and
industrial programmes, and to allocate the available resources and
capabilities to common European initiatives, so as to achieve the
critical mass needed to face the worldwide competition.
Decisions on programmes/activities
On the programmatic side, the Ministers
took decisions concerning the Agency’s mandatory activities (scientific
and basic) and optional programmes (Earth observation,
telecommunications, satellite navigation, human spaceflight,
microgravity, exploration, launchers). Those decisions confirm the ESA
countries’ commitment to boost progress in space science and to be at
the leading edge of discovery, thus supporting the development of
competitive services and future applications for European citizens. The
decisions taken concern the following:
a) The Agency’s mandatory activities: the Level of Resources for 2006-2010 (scientific programme and basic activities) The International Space Station
b) Continuation of ongoing programmes:
– subscriptions for the Earth Observation Envelope Programme
- subscriptions for the International Space Station Exploitation Programme Period 2 and the European ELIPS programme Period 2
- subscriptions for launcher evolutions
- subscriptions for Advanced Research in Telecommunications
Systems (ARTES), focusing on technologies, applications and mission
c) New programmes:
- subscriptions for the Global Monitoring for Environment
and Security (GMES) Space Component, also representing a key European
contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)
- subscriptions for the European Space Exploration
programme Aurora, comprising its first Exploration mission ExoMars and
a Core programme to prepare for future exploration missions
- subscriptions for the preparation of future launchers
- subscriptions for the General Support Technology Programme
(GSTP) for the preparation of new dedicated technology programmes,
focusing on the development of technologies with a view to
non-dependence and security, and aimed at preparing and demonstrating
new concepts such as formation flying satellites in order to carry out
missions of strategic and economic value to space science, Earth
observation and new – in particular security-related – areas.
Note for Editors. For further background information on the programmatic aspects, see ESA Information Note 02/2005
or call:
ESA Communication Department
Media Relations Division
Tel: + 33 (0)1 53 69 71 55
(Credits ESA)