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Press Release
François Biltgen: "European space policy should and will make our fellow citizens dream, because we are contributing to the conquest of space"

Date of release : 07-06-2005

Policy area : Competitiveness (Internal market, Industry and Research) Competitiveness (Internal market, Industry and Research)

Event : Competitiveness Council

The second Space Council, made up of Ministers in the area of "research" of the Competitiveness Council of the European Union and by the Council of the European Space Agency (ESA), met in Luxembourg on 7 June 2005.

Under the joint chairmanship of the Presidency of the Council of the EU and of the Presidency of ESA, represented by Edelgard Bulmahn, German Minister for Education, the Council had an exchange of views on orientations of the preparation of the future European space programme.

After the Council, François Biltgen, Minister for Culture, Higher Education and Research, explained that the focus of this meeting was to identify the roles and responsibilities between the European Union and ESA. The following two conclusions were drawn:

"Firstly, there is unanimous agreement on the strategic dimension that space has for Europe. Based on the policies of the Union and the governments, the use of space should serve the interests of the citizens of Europe. In addition, putting space systems into place will increasingly be based on the needs of users, while taking care that the advantages that these systems bring are shared among everyone. From this point of view, European space policy will enable the policy to be carried out within the framework of the relaunch of the Lisbon Strategy, as it is aimed at boosting growth and jobs by investing in economic diversity, in research and in technological developments."

On the roles and responsibilities of the different participants, President Biltgen confirmed the particular role of the EU in the aggregation of the needs of the users and the federation of the political will to support those needs. "The Union also foresees the availability and the continuity of operation support services for these policies, especially within the context of the Galileo and GMES programmes. The Union will also seek to guarantee an optimal regulatory framework as well as access to international markets. For their part, ESA, the Member States and the cooperating States will focus their activities on the exploration of space and related essential tools: access to space, scientific knowledge and space technologies, while striving for excellence in the area of scientific space research. They will also collaborate on the implementation of space systems with special importance for the policies of the European Union."

There remain four questions to be examined in depth with regard to the establishment of the European space programme:

• need to better identify the costs associated with the future space programme and possible sources and ways of financing;

• need to better define the governance aspects of the future European space programme. It will involve providing a better guarantee for the complementarity of their actions;

• need to find an adequate formula for the equitable involvement of the States that are members of just one of the partner organisations;

• opportunity, highlighted by several delegations, of better distinguishing between short- and medium-term strategic objectives on the one hand and more long-term objectives on the other hand; this reflection on the longer-term strategy should be launched in parallel with the implementation of the future space programme, which will take place during the third Space Council of November 2005.

François Biltgen said he was convinced that "in this era in which Europe has ceased to dream" that "this European space policy should and will make our fellow citizens dream, because we are contributing to the conquest of space." He added that "the European space policy will bring many advantages, especially within the framework of space discovery, and in the development of technological innovations that will benefit the economy and ultimately create jobs."

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This page was last modified on : 08-06-2005

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