I am delighted to be welcoming the participants of the ESA Ministerial meeting in December. It is no surprise that co-presiding the ESA Ministerial Council over the past four years has been a challenge, not least due to changes at the organisational and programmatic levels; but it is one that Switzerland, together with Luxembourg, has risen to and embraced. More significantly, the way has also been paved with a number of successes. We - ESA and its Member States - have been bold collectively and taken some important decisions for the future of European space.
The implementation of these decisions must be seen through. We have first-hand experience of ESA’s scientific and technical accomplishments as well as its pivotal role in fostering collaboration throughout the past 40 years. It is an admirable platform for European cooperation in space which must be preserved through well-managed relations with all European space actors. These good relations are as crucial for now as they are for the long-term future.
The future is also about inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers through the formidable missions and scientific results generated. To enable the pursuit of technological excellence in space, we as Member States must continue to commit to exploration, innovation and commercialisation. It is essential that we foster the desire to innovate and enable our actors to become entrepreneurs in the space sector and work with ESA. In this vein, Switzerland is proud to highlight the recent opening of its ESA Business Incubation Centre in Zurich. The prevailing conditions within which Swiss actors operate drive them to be as competitive as possible with their technology, services and products. The country’s financial sector may be well-known, but it deserves to be even better known as a scientific hub, supported by excellent education and training infrastructure.
It is true that investing public funds in space is accompanied by careful scrutiny and the requirement that tangible benefits for citizens are foreseen, even more so at times of economic challenges as faced by all our governments. ESA’s recognised strengths, its role in ensuring that Europe remains a partner of choice internationally and its scientific and technological achievements which enhance our daily lives, help to garner public support. With this responsibility at the forefront of our minds, I wish us all constructive discussions and fruitful meetings in Lucerne.
State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation
Co-Chair of Council at ministerial level