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Defence Industry and Space
A Secure Europe
A Secure Europe

Protecting citizens from natural and manmade disasters

The EU Space Programme was conceived to protect EU citizens and ensure their wellbeing. The many services offered by the Galileo and Copernicus programmes help to protect citizens from natural and manmade disasters. 

For instance, the Galileo Search and Rescue (SAR) service can detect people in distress anywhere in the world with the activation of an emergency beacon. The Galileo SAR service offers fast (less than 10 minutes) and precise location of the person in distress, which translates into more lives saved. In January 2020, the service received an additional feature - the Galileo Return Link Service (RLS), which lets the person in distress know that that first responders have their signal, their location has been established, and help is on the way. Galileo is the only satellite navigation system to offer such a service and the RLS has proven to increase survival rates by giving an important psychological boost to people in distress.

The societal benefits of the Galileo are continuing to grow, and the programme will soon offer another service aimed at protecting citizens - the Galileo Early Warning Satellite Service (EWSS). This future service will send messages directly to people living in areas threatened by a natural or manmade disaster, enabling them to take actions to save their lives and protect their property.

Satellite-based localisation is not the only space-based service that plays a role in emergency management and response - Earth observation also makes a significant contribution. The Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) aids civil protection authorities and first responders in all phases of the disaster management cycle. In the area of disaster prevention and preparedness CEMS helps to map and monitor hazard prone areas, while during response and recovery operations it is used to quantify a disaster’s impact on the environment, human safety, or the economy. For example, decision-makers use the Copernicus Services to monitor wildfires, track the evolution of floods, and estimate the cost of the resulting damage.

The future Earth Observation Governmental Service (EOGS), which will be made available to EU Member States in the next EU multi-annual financial framework (2028-2034), will harness space data in support of autonomous European decision-making in the area of security and defence. In 2024, a pilot project will test a preliminary service and build an EOGS governance that Member States can trust.

In terms of defence, the EU has taken significant steps to protect its citizens. The European Commission and the High Representative have presented the first-ever European Defence Industrial Strategy at EU level and proposed ambitious actions to support the competitiveness and readiness of the EU defence industry. The European Defence Industrial Strategy (EDIS) sets a clear, long-term vision to achieve defence industrial readiness in the EU. As an initial step towards delivery of the Strategy, the European Commission has tabled a legislative proposal for a European Defence Industry Programme (EDIP), along with a framework of measures to ensure the timely supply of defence products. A stronger and more responsive European defence industry will benefit Member States and ultimately EU citizens. It will also benefit the EU's key partners, including NATO and Ukraine.

Strengthening European cybersecurity with new space infrastructure & defence applications

Critical sectors such as transport, energy, health and finance have become increasingly dependent on digital technologies to run their core business. While digitalisation brings enormous opportunities and provides solutions for many of the challenges Europe is facing, it also exposes society to cyber threats. With 41 billion devices worldwide expected to be linked by 2025, it is anticipated that incidences of cybercrime and cyberattacks will increase.

The IRIS2 Satellite Constellation, or Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnectivity and Security by Satellite, is DG DEFIS’s response to the cybersecurity challenge of tomorrow. This new programme will provide secure communication to governmental users and businesses, while ensuring high-speed internet broadband to deal with connectivity dead zones. IRIS2 (IRIS squared) will be a new space-based pillar supporting a more resilient, competitive and safer digital Europe. Relying on quantum cryptography through the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI), and enhanced cybersecurity, the system will offer an unprecedented level of security to its users.

Going one step further with a view to helping detect GNSS attacks EUSPA, together with the European Commission, is currently testing the Galileo Open Service Navigation Message Authentication (OSNMA). This service will allow users to verify the authenticity of GNSS information, making sure that the data they receive is indeed from Galileo and has not been modified in any way.

In the area of defence, cyber is recognised as a military operational domain in its own right, it is also an integral and critical dimension of various key defence capabilities. The EU's Cyber Defence Policy emphasises the need to invest in cyber defence, including the development of a full spectrum cyber defence capability.

Towards this objective, R&D activities on cyber security and cyber defence under the European Defence Fund will strengthen the EU's cyber resilience and cyber operational capabilities, while also promoting cooperation and joint capability building, thereby enhancing the interoperability and efficiency of military operations.

DG DEFIS recognises the need to move from emergency response to structural EU cyber-defence readiness and has proposed, through the European Defence Investment Programme (EDIP), to launch European defence projects of common interest. The objective is to establish a regulatory framework to support the security of production and supply of defence equipment, protect the Union’s and Member States’ free access to contested areas such as cyber, and to contribute to the implementation of the EU Capability Development Priorities.

Protecting existing space infrastructure

Increased space traffic is a pressing issue. With over 20 000 satellites expected to be launched in the next decade, various orbits are becoming increasingly congested.  The abundance of satellites is not only responsible for "an unprecedented space traffic jam". It is also the cause of a large amount of space debris, or junk, which is increasing at an alarming rate. It is estimated that over 1 million items of debris larger than 1cm are currently orbiting the Earth.

As both space debris and congestion jeopardise the operation and security of the EU’s and Member States’ space assets, such as Galileo, Copernicus and EGNOS, the European Commission recently proposed an integrated EU approach to Space Traffic Management (EU STM). This holistic approach will secure the long-term viability of space activities by ensuring that space remains a sustainable, safe and secure environment. It outlines the means and rules for safely, sustainably, and securely accessing, conducting activities in, and returning from outer space.

To ensure its satellite infrastructure is adequately protected, the European Union has been relying on the EU Space Surveillance and Tracking (EU SST) partnership, which is the main operational pillar of the STM.