4th Conference on EU Space Policy
'Benefits for citizens and society', European Parliament, Brussels
8 November 2011
Speech by ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain
I am glad to speak after the Minister of Poland, which is not only the current holder of the EU Presidency but also a country that will become a Member State of ESA soon.
It is not easy to speak about space today, even after the successful first launch of Soyuz from French Guiana, which brought into orbit the two first operational Galileo satellites.
It is difficult because there is a reality, which dominates all agendas in Europe and which is common to all economic sectors: the economic crisis. I am sure that you have heard about it… The space sector does not live on a different planet from the one where there is an economic crisis, and cannot ignore this crisis, in particular since the economy generated by the space sector is much bigger than the economy of the space sector itself – thanks to the services generated by the space sector.
But the space sector is more than just an economic sector:
- It is an industrial sector, one of the very few where all manufacturing is taking place within Europe.
- It is a factor of competitiveness for the whole of Europe, being a sector of knowledge and technology.
- It is one of the few sectors where transfer of knowledge into services for citizens is the most systematic and rapid, mostly thanks to the space agencies which organise such a transfer.
More importantly, the space sector is one of the very few sectors where Europe is a leader in the world and where Europe is a model.
A leader first. Yes, Europe is a leader on the world commercial market. First, it is a leader in manufacturing, where European space industry is getting a significant share of the world commercial market in telecommunication satellites. And also in services: whether it is the European satcom operators or Arianespace in launch services, we have the lion’s share of the world commercial market.
Moreover, Europe is a leader on the technology side: the technology onboard Galileo is the best in the world. There is no other atomic clock or signal generator at the level of the ones of the Galileo satellites.
On the services side, the best meteorology services are delivered by Eumetsat. For satellite-based services in case of natural disasters, ESA and CNES founded the Charter on natural disasters 10 years ago, which is called nowadays three times per month to provide data after a natural disaster.
Europe is a model also, focusing all of its space activities towards the benefit of citizens, towards all citizens of Europe. Through the EU and Member States, there is an equal access for all European citizens to all benefits which are distributed by space infrastructure in Europe, be it for meteorology, for telecommunication, for environment, for navigation.
Priority is given to citizens: citizens in Europe, but benefits are provided worldwide to all citizens of the world. Yesterday it was the Japanese citizens receiving satellite data after the tsunami, today Italian citizens after the dramatic floods in the north of Italy. These are the GMES services for disaster response, which have recently been activated after the floods in Italy.
Europe is also a model for the world in space by initiating global services, beyond the borders of Europe.
- The Charter on natural disasters, already mentioned, was founded by two parties from Europe but it now has 15 members from all over the world and delivers services worldwide.
- GEOSS, the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, has been initiated by Europe, with GMES.
Europe is a model also for building up Public Private Partnerships: from Hylas, together with the UK operator Avanti, launched one year ago, to the recently contracted EDRS with Astrium Services, which aims at driving the world standard in communications.
Europe is, finally, a model for international cooperation. Europe is the most reliable partner of the world – we have never broken an international agreement – and a partner attractive to all space powers of the world: the US, Russia, China… which all want to extend their cooperation with Europe. It is also attractive for countries that are not space powers yet but looking for space data, such as countries in Africa, with which we are cooperating and to which we provide data, such as for water management.
Being a leader and a model makes Europe hold a special place in the space world. However, there is a strong deficit of Europe compared to other space powers: security and defence is not a driver of space activities. This makes Europe still a small actor compared with other space powers. I thank the Polish Presidency for having organised conferences on the subject. This deficit on security and defence makes Europe’s leadership fragile.
The leadership has created obligations vis-à-vis all citizens of Europe and in the world, who expect the created services to continue. The deficit is making this leadership even more fragile.
This is why, despite the economic crisis, investments must be focused on these sectors of excellence and leadership, because it is the only way to consolidate the efficiency of investments over a long period.
Investments in the space sector are really the priority, which requires three lines of actions:
- Stimulate private investments by guaranteeing the continuity of public investments. This is especially true for services, which have created obligations, such as GMES services, in which no user will invest further if the service continuity is not guaranteed.
- Design an appropriate industrial policy, which will guarantee the consolidation of the competitiveness of European industry.
- Consider the world as the playing field and not only Europe. The challenges are global and the solutions are global.
What we have succeeded to do so far with two actors, ESA and its Member States – position Europe as a leader - we should have an even better chance to do that now with three actors: the EU, ESA and Member States.
This is the reason why we cannot afford to miss the two next rendezvous for consolidating the position of Europe in space:
- The Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) of the EU;
- The Council of ESA at Ministerial Level in 2012.
As far as the Multi-annual Financial Framework is concerned, to quote the President of the European Council, it is clear that the two priorities are: Galileo and GMES. ESA fully supports this statement. These two programmes are not space programmes, they concern services to the citizens – services which are already delivered to citizens and which cannot be stopped. These two programmes have been created by the EC and must be sustained by the EU. Clearly, the current uncertainty on the GMES continuity weakens the overall space edifice in Europe, and has introduced doubts on the capacity of the three actors, the EU, ESA and Member States, to consolidate what the two, ESA and Member States, have achieved so far. We have to work together to make sure that we put Galileo and GMES as the two most important priorities for the Multi-annual Financial Framework.
As for the ESA Ministerial Council planned in 2012, obviously it will take place at a time of economic crisis, but I would like to recall that the last Ministerial in 2008 was already organised at the time of the financial crisis. Despite the financial crisis ESA Member States succeeded in committing more than €10 billion in knowledge, competitiveness and services.
ESA has demonstrated during the last three years its capacity to manage these commitments of Member States within their budget constraints. This management has required efforts from all actors:
- Member States
- The ESA Executive, which now has a plan to reduce the internal costs of ESA by 25% in 2015. We are taking the economic crisis into account, but we manage to keep investing in knowledge, competitiveness and services.
The economic crisis is not a good time for public investments, but it is a good argument to put space as a priority for future investments and a good reason for increasing further the efficiency and effectiveness of these investments. Let’s work together to reach these objectives at the next ESA Council at Ministerial Level. Efforts from all will be even more necessary to succeed in making the next MFF and the next Ministerial Council the instruments of a Europe leading in space, even more than today.
Last update: 17 November 2011