“Today is an important milestone in the creation of a European global system, the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security. During its Presidency of the EU Council, Austria has managed to concretise the second European user-orientated space project after Galileo”, said Eduard Mainoni, State Secretary for Research, expressing satisfaction with the results of the GMES Conference in Graz at a joint press conference with EU Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen.
Almost 200 participants from all over Europe spent the past few days in Graz, amongst them the heads of user institutions such as the European Environment Agency and the European Committee of the Regions, as well as heads of industrial associations. The conference of top-flight experts, “A market for GMES in Europe and its regions – the Graz dialogue”, had been preceded by workshops in Warsaw, Toulouse and Budapest. The results of these workshops flowed into the “Graz process”. “More than 800 experts in total contributed their views on GMES to the dialogue. These contributions were immensely important for this process and flowed into the present concluding conference paper. We have brought the discussions to a conclusion and summarised the results in the “Graz Declaration”. Thus work on implementation can start”, said Mainoni.
The strategic, economic and regional building blocks of GMES are defined in the “Graz Declaration”, wherein the indispensability of this joint monitoring programme is highlighted. The optimum form of organisation will be fixed shortly.
Mainoni and Verheugen above all emphasised the use of GMES both for citizens and for industry. “We can detect changes earlier and use our resources which are growing scarcer to better effect through precise observation of the earth‘s surface. In future, it will also be possible to recognise natural disasters, such as avalanches or floods in time and to react accordingly”, they said.
However, Mainoni also stressed the significance for governments: “GMES permits decisions in the fields of environmental protection and security to be put on a better and Europe-wide uniform basis. During the Graz conference we also discussed spheres of application within the European regions and for private users to attain the best possible capacity. As has been proven, the breakthrough of many innovative applications can be helped by widely accessible basic services.”
“With the use of satellites it is possible today to observe large areas independent of borders and in real-time. Satellites are indispensable for rapid distribution of data”, said Dr Volker Liebig, ESA Head of Earth Observation Systems, underlining the importance of GMES. “The Graz dialogue has placed special emphasis on the necessary inclusion and mobilisation of the most important GMES users. By using GMES we will be able for the first time to obtain detailed data about land use in Europe and to document changes precisely”, said Jacqueline McGlade, Head of the European Environment Agency. Michel Delebarre, President of the Committee of the Regions, announced that an increasing number of regions intend to commit themselves to GMES applications.
The cost of the joint EU Commission and ESA project will run to approximately 2.3 billion euro, with part of it being funded by the EU‘s 7th research framework programme. The remaining costs will be covered by the ESA from optional programmes. Additional utilisation budgets are to be tapped. “We expect the first Europe-wide GMES services to be provided as early as 2008. This will be done using the satellite systems in existence up to then. The ESA‘s own GMES satellites are then to go into orbit in 2012. This is how we will guarantee the operational use of GMES services”, Mainoni continued.
Günter Verheugen is going to launch a naming competition to arouse interest in GMES and to make young people more sensitive to innovative projects for the future. “It is a question of giving this initiative a new look which expresses the European character with the emphasis on utilisation of GMES. School classes have until October 2006 to submit their ideas, the best will then be selected by a jury, awarded a prize and also put into practice”, Verheugen said, appealing for involvement.
Information about the naming competition can be found on www.gmes.info.
Spokesperson Office of State Secretary Eduard Mainoni
Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology
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