By Antonio Tajani - 17th January 2012
Our flagship programmes Galileo/EGNOS and the European Earth monitoring programme (GMES) are the EU’s transmission belt to bring space down to Earth and generate benefits for citizens
The recent high-level conference in the European parliament clearly illustrates just how strong the interest on space policy is, says Antonio Tajani.
This year’s conference on space policy was a big success, attracting high-level speakers and numerous participants, demonstrating that there is a wide and strong interest in space matters. The focus of the conference was the benefits of space policy for Europe’s citizens and society.
The conference was held in the European parliament’s Brussels hemicycle. The respective presidents of the parliament, the European council and the commission delivered opening speeches setting the framework for the discussions. Speakers in the various thematic sessions included commissioners, members of the European parliament, as well as representatives from member states, other EU institutions and bodies, the European space agency, national space agencies and industry. The sessions highlighted the fact that space applications and technologies have become indispensable for our citizens, our economy and our society. Space applications have a direct impact on our daily lives as outlined by several of my fellow commissioners during their presentations. They contribute to enhancing our well-being, as well as to the sustainable, smart and inclusive development of our economy.
Space applications are critical in numerous sectors such as crisis management, environmental monitoring and protection, mitigating climate change, agriculture, fisheries, territorial planning, transport and communications. Space is also a substantial driver for industrial innovation. The requirements of space missions are always at the edge of existing technology and often go beyond; this is the reason why space is constantly generating breakthrough technologies that later find their use in products and applications for our everyday lives. The space sector also demands a highly skilled and diverse workforce and strong research and development activities.
Our flagship programmes Galileo/EGNOS and the European Earth monitoring programme (GMES) are the EU’s transmission belt to bring space down to Earth and generate benefits for citizens. They are now entering a critical phase as their operational deployment begins. The recent launch of the first two satellites of the Galileo constellation from Europe’s spaceport in Kouru marks the beginning of a new era.
As we become more and more dependent on space applications, there is a growing need to protect our space infrastructures from collision with debris and other spacecraft or from solar flares. Space research is equally important to ensure that we maintain the technological edge that space activities demand.
The adoption of the regulation of the European parliament and the council on the implementation and exploitation of European satellite navigation systems, the commission communication on GMES and its operations - from 2014 onwards - and the Horizon 2020 programme proposal - which includes space - on 30 November illustrates the path the commission intends to follow in space. The ultimate goal of the EU is to ensure the wellbeing of its citizens. It is clear that space applications are indispensable to achieving this goal. This is the reason why the EU will continue to engage and actively support space activities in Europe in close cooperation with its member states and the European space agency.
Antonio Tajani is European commission vice-president for industry and entrepreneurship