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About the Ministerial Council

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ESA / About Us / Ministerial Council 2012

Objectives and priorities for Europe in space will be discussed at the Council at Ministerial Level in Naples, Italy.

On 20 and 21 November, the Ministers in charge of space activities within the 20 ESA Member States and Canada will meet to decide on the future space programmes with the objective of pushing the frontiers of knowledge, supporting an innovative and competitive Europe and enabling new space-based services.

To achieve this, new investments in space must be balanced among complementary strategic objectives. The proposed investments to be decided at the Ministerial Council amount to about €12 billion, an amount comparable to the proposals made at the Ministerial Council in 2008. They are balanced among three objectives:

  • Pushing the frontiers of knowledge: This objective will be achieved through a combination of mandatory activities – ESA’s scientific and basic technology programmes – and optional activities, such as the Earth Observation Envelope Programme-4 for increased scientific understanding of the Earth, the exploitation of ISS and exploration programmes.


  • Supporting an innovative and competitive Europe, with a public investment complemented through partnerships, mostly with private partners (industry and operators). These partnerships are particularly important in the telecommunications sector, which is the main commercial field of space activities. They are the basis for the development of the next generation platforms Neosat and Partner. In the launcher sector, the main objective is to decide and properly manage its evolution within the next decade. Finally, Europe’s edge in world markets will be supported through the Technology Research Programme, the General Support Technology Programme including a Small Mission Initiative, the European Component Initiative for Technology non-Dependence and the Technology Transfer Programme.


  • Enabling services, with a public investment substantially complemented (at least doubled) through partnerships with Eumetsat and the EU. These investments focus on maximising benefits from satellites to society and the economy, in particular through programmes such as MetOp Second Generation in meteorology, Iris and SAT-AIS in satellite communications, the European GNSS Evolution Programme for navigation, and GMES Space Component 3 in the critical field of Earth Observation for environment and security.

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