Space technology, data and services have become indispensable in the daily lives of Europeans. We rely on them when using mobile phones and car navigation systems, watching satellite TV, or withdrawing money from an ATM machine. Satellites also provide immediate information when disasters occur, such as earthquakes, forest fires or floods, enabling better coordination between emergency and rescue teams.
As the space sector is going through massive transformation and rapid industrialisation at a global level, the EU Space policy constantly evolves and adapts to this fast-paced ecosystem in order to meet the challenges today and anticipate the needs of tomorrow. The European Union’s space policy actively contributes to fighting climate change, stimulates technological advances and innovation, and provides socio-economic benefits to citizens, thus addressing four of the Union’s top political priorities:
- “a European Green Deal”
- “a Europe fit for the digital age
- "a Stronger Europe in the World"
- ”Supporting our European way of life"
The new Space Programme of the European Union adopted in 2021 sets an ambitious agenda for a more dynamic, innovative and resilient European space ecosystem. Leveraging European leadership and industrial and scientific expertise in space, it continues to invest in Europe’s sovereign space infrastructure which supports a wide array of economic sectors through downstream applications using space technologies, data and services. Here are just a few examples:
- Increased efficiency in agriculture and fisheries: satellite-enabled applications improve the mapping of cropland in need of irrigation, harvest forecasts, and fisheries control. This guarantees better food quality and security while safeguarding the environment;
- Improving Europe’s digital connectivity; helping region’s access knowledge and information: satellites support communication when Earth-based solutions are limited. This reduces regional imbalances by serving communities in remote areas with no Internet access;
- Improved crisis response: satellite services help shorten response times in emergencies. Swift damage images and assessment maps contribute to more efficient planning and relief efforts, and help guide rescue services;
- Protecting the environment and fighting climate change: environmental monitoring provides crucial information on the state of vegetation, ocean currents, water quality, natural resources, atmospheric pollutants, greenhouse gases and the ozone layer;
- Increased security: satellite positioning, satellite communications and Earth observation contribute to detecting illegal immigration, preventing cross-border organised crime, and combating piracy at sea;
- Improving citizens’ health: space-based applications can significantly improve patients‘ healthcare and health education through remote medical support. They also help in preventing or mitigating the outbreak of a disease;
- Optimising and greening transport: when combined with enhanced communication capabilities, highly accurate satellite positioning contributes to a modern and reliable transport sector for cars, planes, and ships. It optimises fleet management, vessel traceability, collision prevention, speed control, assistance for ship manoeuvres, etc.