By Vittorio Prodi - 29th October 2012
Vittorio Prodi is calling for more action to ensure Europe's access to space is safeguarded.
Space research is expected to contribute significantly to the Europe 2020 priorities and the Cyprus discussions are an important step in targeting the sector towards them, building on the results from FP7. With targets such as the integration of satellite communication and satellite navigation solutions with space-based observing systems, the sector will be given the tools to serve society while strengthening its foundations. It is a sector which has always been at the service of the common good, but in need of a strong political roadmap. This symbiotic relationship, however, now calls for bold action to ensure that European access to space is safeguarded. Horizon 2020 will need to ensure an increased non-dependence on external critical technology, and a further strengthening of the foundations of the programme.
The Larnaca discussions will plot the course for European space policy in a wider framework of serving EU policy objectives – such as supporting job creation and growth. Moreover, there will be internal spinoffs aiding the community to build strong governance and funding structures, further solidifying the competitiveness of the European aerospace sector in a very competitive global market. As we have been taught with the Galileo programme, sound industrial leadership and distribution of work allows member states to overcome the divisions and instils within projects clear and shared rationales, with a 'European common interest' in mind.
We would have liked to be invited as the European parliaments’ friends of space policy members, but we are committed to solving bigger problems these days: since the framework programmes already had a demonstrable effect for the industry and created long term economic, environmental and societal benefits, why are not all future space programmes ensured to be paid out of the EU budget? On the other side, we have to deal with new serious aspects of our space commitments, like the geo-strategic implication of the European space policy. In this framework, the parliament would certainly love to be involved in the task force of the European commission, the European defence agency and the European space agency to discuss the future of the sector. On our side, the sky and space intergroup will proceed with a reflection on the code of conduct for outer space activities next month, where a higher level of governance will be at stake.
Vittorio Prodi is chair of parliament’s sky and space intergroup