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Ministers meet to define the role of space in delivering global objectives

Ministers in charge of space activities within the now 18 ESA Member States and Canada will meet in The Hague (the Netherlands) on 25 and 26 November to implement the European Space Policy, setting out the start of future programmes and taking decisions on the next phases of on-going programmes.

This Council meeting at ministerial level will take place in an unprecedentedly favourable environment for the European space sector:

- 29 Ministers of the ESA and European Union Member States, gathering in the Space Council meetings (*), have given full support to the European Space Policy (ESP) -adopted in 2007- and established clear strategic objectives for space, identifying priority areas that include in particular the contribution of space to: monitoring and mitigating global change, security, the Lisbon strategy (aimed at making the EU the most competitive economy in the world) and space exploration.

- ESA is confirmed as a leading global player and a reliable partner in international cooperation: with the successful missions of the Columbus laboratory to the International Space station (ISS) and the “Jules Verne”/ATV cargo carrier, it has become a fully-fledged partner on the ISS; moreover it has driven forward the scientific frontier in space and also re-established Ariane as the leader of the world-wide commercial launch market.

- National programmes, in particular in Space Science and Earth Observation, are increasingly planned in such a way as to complement ESA and maximise benefits to Europe as a whole;

- The EU, together with ESA and the Member States, has become a key player in strengthening Europe as a space power, creating and co-funding space-based public services such as the global positioning satellite system Galileo and piloting the global monitoring for environment and security GMES programme to meet the needs of European citizens.

(*)The Space Council is the joint and concomitant meeting of the EU Council and of the ESA Council at ministerial level. Its first meeting dates back to 2004. In May 2007, the Ministers of the Space Council, representing 29 European countries, adopted the new European Space Policy, unifying the approach of ESA with those of the individual European Union member states

Europe’s excellence in space, its increased recognition worldwide and the recent successes are all the result of decisions and investments made by European Ministers years and even decades ago. The Council at Ministerial level in The Hague will give Ministers responsible for space activities an opportunity to construct the future today, with renewed commitment and vision.

Objectives for the Council at ministerial level in 2008

In expressing their support for the European Space Policy ESA’s Ministers, together with their EU peers, have established the political agenda for space in Europe. The ESA Council at ministerial level in The Hague will translate the policy into concrete programmes. Ministers will establish priorities within those programmes which are instrumental in ensuring the contribution of the space sector to the future of Europe and will allocate resources accordingly.

Clear programmatic priorities, consistent with the strategic objectives on the one hand, and with the longer-term vision on the other, will assist Europe to:

- further develop the benefits of space to society and the knowledge economy, stimulating innovation, creativity and growth; promote the development of new products and services benefiting daily life;
- be increasingly successful on the global market in space systems, services and applications;
- meet its defence and security needs for space;
- and provide continued access to space.

Erica Rolfe | alfa
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