Press EU Space Policy - A Driver for Growth

Opinion Articles | 22-01-2014 in The Parliament Magazine

Space is a driver for growth and innovation, thus contributing directly to Europe's growth strategy for a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy.

Recognizing the importance of the space sector, the Lisbon Treaty sets out a clear competence in space policy at European level strengthened by EU´s growing budgetary investment.

The European Commission's investments in Space are made through the global satellite navigation systems (Galileo & EGNOS) and the programme of Earth monitoring (COPERNICUS, former GMES) while the EU space research is supported through Horizon2020 the framework programme for Research and Innovation.

I was given the responsibility of being the rapporteur of the Specific Programme on H2020 in the ITRE committee and rapport of the Copernicus and Galileo in the Budget committee.

The European Parliament and Council have reached an agreement regarding the MFF 2014-2020 which earmarked 6.300 billion EUR for Galileo programme and 3.786 billion EUR for Copernicus programme (former GMES). This means more than doubling when compared with the previous seven years. Apart from that, 1.354 billion EUR out of the 79.4 billion EUR for the Horizon2020 program, are to be invested in space research and innovation.

Nowadays, the European space industry has to face increasing competition from new emerging countries such as China and India and the European space industry needs to aim at strengthening competitiveness at global level.

The European space industry is well positioned to compete in the global market but a bigger emphasis should be given on granting access of small and medium-sized enterprises ensuring the strengthening of the sector. Also, particular emphasis should be given to the role of innovation and technology to ensure that the European space industrial sector can innovate and develop without depending on technology produced outside Europe.

The investment through the research framework programme has been effective in supporting initiatives coming from industry, research institutions and academia to develop space research initiatives. In addition, the European space flagships, Copernicus and Galileo programs, play a major role in the process of developing successful strategies to respond to societal challenges of Horizon 2020. Space, itsef, is considered as a Key Enabling Technology in Horizon 2020, placed under Pilar 2 - Industrial Leadership. Space Technologies are here correctly placed since they are of most importance for other sectors, such as Transport, Environment, Climate Change, Agriculture.

The objective of the activities is to maintain a leading role on the global level in space by safeguarding and developing a competitive space industry and research community and by fostering space-based innovation.

To conclude, I would like to point out that financing is important but it is not the only condition to increase competitiveness. It is also necessary to provide the European industry with the adequate framework conditions. An effective system of credit, a market with fair and transparent competition law, simple industrial property rules are essential to ensure the favorable environment for enhanced industrial competitiveness.

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