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Interview with TOMAZ LOVRENCIC, Director European Union Satellite Centre

In the next issue of EOMAG, EARSC had the opportunity to discuss with Mr. Lovrencic, Director EUSC some topics relevant to European Earth Observation programme (GMES) and its impacts to the geo-information service provider sector.

The Centre shall, in coherence with the European Security Strategy, support the decision–making of the European Union in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), in particular of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), including European Union crisis management operations, by providing, as appropriate, products resulting from the analysis of satellite imagery and additional/collateral data, including aerial imagery or in-situ data. What are the key objectives of the Satellite Centre?

The EUSC aims to be the leading provider of high quality and relevant GEOINT products and services in support to CFSP/CSDP; to be an essential partner in the EU geospatial intelligence community; to fully integrate the EUSC’s capabilities into CFSP/CSDP operations, especially with regard to the integration of civil and military planning capabilities at the Council General Secretariat; to play a key role in the security dimension of the EU Global Monitoring for Environmental and Security (GMES) programme in support to the European Security Strategy; and to continue to explore cooperative opportunities where benefits for further improvement in EU crisis response capabilities could arise, as directed by the Council.

The EUSC operates under the auspices of the European Union (EU) Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The Centre provides imagery analysis and geospatial intelligence products and services to the EU’s political and military leadership. However, could you explain how the EUSC is assisting the European Union and in which fields of operations?

The EUSC responds to requests from the Council of the EU, EU Member States, the European Commission, third states and international organizations such as the UN and NATO.

The EU Common Security and Defence Policy is growing and the EU Satellite Centre is growing with it. A major part of our work consists in supporting the increasing number of EU operations and missions, particularly EUMM Georgia, EUNAVFOR – Atalanta and, recently, EUFOR Tchad/RCA. Apart from this, the Centre receives tasks related to arms control, non-proliferation and treaty verification; counter terrorism; humanitarian aid missions; contingency planning of peacekeeping missions; counter crime and general security surveillance.

The EU Satellite Centre performs technical development activities in direct support to its operational activities, as well as specialised training for its image analysts, including external participants from Member States and Third States. How do you assure this support? Is this support provided alone or with industry alliances?

The EUSC has interdisciplinary project groups consisting of technicians, staff from the Operations Division and end users in order to define operational needs. Furthermore, it has a capability development team looking at what exists on the market and participating in different EU programmes and projects for technical and capability development. The Technical Division integrates and develops the software applications. This can be done with industrial partners or in-house.

As for the training of image analysts, the EUSC has a team dedicated to training of analysts both outside and inside the Centre. Courses offered by the Centre include ‘Initial Training’, Interpreting Industrial Installations, ‘Interpreting Nuclear Installations’, ‘Interpreting Military Forces’, ‘Introduction to GIS’ and a radar course. Due to the increasing demand from outside participants, the Training Unit is growing.

Which has been the most striking progress (in terms of quantity, complexity, institutional experience) as an Operational agency over the last year? And what are the connexions with the stakeholders (Council and Members states?) who are your key customers? Could you elaborate on what these products and services are? Which is your service added value?

The EUSC has experienced a remarkable increase in the demand for products during the last years. This evolution is especially due to the growing number of European Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations. Those missions and operations are in fact the primary beneficiaries of EUSC products together with the Council of the EU. The creation of a unit in support of the Commission programme, ‘Global Monitoring for Environment and Security’ has also influenced the growth of the Centre significantly, both in terms of financial and human resources.

Our products are mostly geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) products, but also imagery intelligence (IMINT) products to some extent. GEOINT comprises the analysis of geospatial information to describe, assess and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on earth. GEOINT data sources include imagery and mapping data as well as collateral data, using all spatial skills and disciplines, including photogrammetry, cartography, imagery analysis, remote sensing and terrain analysis for exploitation. IMINT describes the exploitation of information from satellite and aerial imagery.

Analysis of this imagery by specialists turns information into intelligence for further use. Recent examples of our products include damage assessment in support of the relief efforts in Haiti, and currently a large number of products are related to anti-piracy off the Somali coast in support of operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta.

The added value of the EUSC is that it is the only European Union agency in this field of work, which means that we are a direct source of GEOINT and IMINT for the EU and a complimentary source for Member States. Furthermore, all Member States benefit from this European capacity by automatically receiving a copy of all the products requested by another Member State, the Council of the EU, the Commission or an international organisation, thus saving money and resources.

How do you see the European Earth Observation programme (GMES) related to your mission? And what’s your perception this time of GMES?

The EUSC works for the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy and particularly the EU Common Security and Defence Policy. Therefore it is the security part of GMES to which the EUSC contributes. This is why we normally talk about the ‘S’ in GMES when explaining the Centre’s involvement in the programme.

GMES is an important source of capability development from which the Centre, other stakeholders and citizens are benefitting and will benefit even more in the future, once GMES moves into its operational phase. During a recent Board Meeting, three possible roles of the Centre in GMES were discussed: the EUSC as an interface between CFSP/CSDP users and GMES services relevant for the mission of the EU Satellite Centre; the EUSC providing services beyond the sole remit of CFSP/CSDP users; and the EUSC as a coordinating entity for space data access in the field of security (in the longer term).

All Board Members supported the first idea which represents the implication of the EUSC so far, and the further development of the second proposal also received wide support.

At the end of the interview, we would like to ask you for your overall recommendations on the future development of the geo-information service sector, and would like to ask to give some hopefully positive messages to the members of EARSC

The relationship with relevant industrial actors in the fields of earth observation, GEOINT services and provision of data is of great importance to the EU, apart from better integration within the emerging European Union institutions in the field of Common Foreign and Security Policy, especially now with the European External Action Service. The EUSC serves as a gateway to a number of national GEOINT actors, both in terms of production of GEOINT products and services and as a meeting platform for national GEOINT communities.

Within this framework, good service provided by European geo-information companies to the Centre is essential. The EUSC is very much interested in working even closer together with providers that can guarantee the highest quality, fast delivery, as well as perfect reliability and have incorporated a strong service orientation. These elements are essential in supporting the EUSC in its CFSP/CSDP mission on behalf of the EU Member States.

I expect that the small tradition of excellent contacts with industry will be strengthened in the future, thus making even better use of the comparative advantages of the European Union and its Member States in this field.

1. Third states are non-EU NATO members and other countries which are candidates for accession to the EU.

Thank you in advance for the elements of contribution to the Interview and for sharing your thoughts and comments with the EOmag readers

Biography Mr. Tomaz Lovrencic, Director European Union Satellite Centre
Mr. Lovrencic has been elected Deputy Director of the European Union Satellite Centre in 2006, and recently reelected for a second mandate. His responsibilities include management of production of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) products, based on satellite imagery, for the support of European Security and Defence Policy operations; relations with EUSC key stakeholders, the 27 EU Member States; and other activities of the EU Satellite Centre where space and security are involved.
As a career diplomat, Mr. Lovrencic served, between 2002 and 2006, as Slovenia’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, with non-residential accreditation to the Principality of Andorra and the Republic of Cuba. Prior to this assignment, Mr. Lovrencic worked as Diplomatic Advisor to Prime Minister dr. Janez Drnovšek (1996-1999) and then as Deputy Director (1999) and Director (2000-2002) of the Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency, during which time he was also Secretary of Slovenia’s National Security Council.
Mr. Lovrencic received his B.A. magna cum laude in International Affairs from l’Université Américaine de Paris, France, and studied as an exchange student in Cairo, Egypt. He obtained his Master’s degree in Foreign Service, with distinction, from Georgetown University, Washington D.C.. He also did post-graduate studies in the field of international security at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Mr. Lovrencic speaks, in addition to his mother tongue Slovenian, also English, French, Spanish, German, and Croatian, and is presently studying Modern Standard Arabic.