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Defence Industry and Space
News article24 June 2021Brussels

EU SPACE launch: summary and replay

The European Commission, in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) co-hosted an event launching the European Union's new space programme in Brussels on 22 June 2021. 

eusp launch event signature moment

More than 1,600 people attended from various platforms. The hybrid event marked the entry into force of the EU Space regulation and included the formal signing of the Financial Framework Partnership Agreement (FFPA) between the Commission, ESA and EUSPA.

The launch highlighted the ambitious space agenda for Europe, designed to support the economy, protect the environment, and ensure people's safety. Over time, EU Space will deliver new technologies providing important data for policymakers, entrepreneurs and citizens, and lead to the development of new space technologies, data products and services.

High-level decision-makers participated to panels on cooperation amongst the space actors, entrepreneurship opportunities and how the EU Space Programme contributes to key EU policies, including the EU's digital and green transition agenda.

The adoption of EU Space translates into the EU's largest budget ever, €14.88 billion, to foster the vibrant technological leadership, experience and world class programmes (e.g. Galileo and Copernicus) of the EU Space ecosystem.


Key takeaways

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, Portugal's Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, and Cristian Busoi, MEP and Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, outlined the following points:

- To maintain its leadership, the EU needs to adapt to fast developments and anticipate future demand by being more dynamic and more innovative as the global space race is not going to slow down.

- The new generation of Galileo satellites (expected launch by 2024) will feature technological breakthroughs, whereas Copernicus will be given the means to adapt to new competition in earth observation.

- Connectivity is a key challenge. For Europe to rely on an autonomous and secured space-based connectivity system means, it must:

   1. give access to high-speed broadband to everyone in Europe, but also potentially in Africa;

   2. avoid dependency on third countries and non-EU initiatives;

   3. use quantum technology for protection against cyber- and hybrid threats;

  4. keep the continent connected in a reliable, cost-effective, and ultra-secure manner.

Going beyond national interests, the EU will define a common strategy for launchers. A European alliance for the next generation of launchers will explore new ways of access to space, fostering development, competition and innovation.

Europe strives to become a world class hub of space entrepreneurship. Plans include the CASSINI programme (€1 billion EU Space fund to boost start-ups and space innovation), the establishment of an incubator network and a large-scale European in-orbit technology validation programme (together with ESA) to test in space to the most promising technologies.

en percent of the EU's economy already depends on space services and data and there is considerable potential for expanding the space economy, and delivering on European citizens' needs. The Financial Framework Partnership Agreement (FFPA) provides the agile governance for a strong future policy.

The FFPA is the next phase of cooperation building on the successes of Copernicus (earth observation programme) and Galileo (satellite navigation system).

In terms of cooperation, the structure is clear: the Commission is the project manager; ESA provides the best technological know-how and expertise;  EUSPA is the service-oriented exploitation manager, dealing with downstream activities and applications. A joint office has been set up. There are also integrated teams on the sites of space operations.

 Plenty of opportunities

The global market for space-based services is estimated to reach € 300 billion by the end of this decade. The European downstream industry has a lot of potential to help the European economies.

The European space sprograme is an enabler for the Green Deal (e.g. addressing climate change by monitoring green house gas emisssions and other pollutants) and the Digital Agenda (providing data and connectivity). For example, 'precision agriculture' and better management of resources can reduce environmental footprints; space data products can be used to help with 'smart mobility' by reducing fuel consumption and optimizing transport routes. Space can also play a role in the Internet of Things and in ensuring connectivity to everyone in the EU.

To reinforce its resilience, the EU will explore mutually reinforcing synergies in technology between the civil, defence and space policy sectors.

Providing technological support in developing breakthrough technologies and business support in terms of helping entrepreneurs develop robust business models are key. According to independent studies, €1 invested in Copernicus generates €10 for the economy, in terms of new services and start-ups being created. This shows why data is so valuable and how it creates a new ecosystem.

Watch the replay here

See the EU Space Programme factsheet

More on EU Space


Publication date
24 June 2021