General overview

The Plan for European Cooperating States (PECS) is designed to help European countries, particularly those that joined the EU after 2004, to join ESA. At present, Hungary, Poland and Romania have signed a PECS Charter.

PECS is helping to stimulate relations with interested European countries, to expand the overall European scientific and industrial base and to enrich ESA as a research and development organisation.

How it works

To be a candidate, a country must be European and must already have signed a Framework Agreement with ESA. If a country wishes to participate more fully with ESA, a European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement is drawn up.

The ECS Agreement, which allows a country to participate in ESA procurements and activities, should be complemented within a year by a PECS Charter, a five-year plan jointly agreed between ESA and the country concerned. During those five years, the country performs a number of activities, mostly in research and development, to help it develop expertise within its space industry.

The five years spent under the PECS Charter enables a country to increase its knowledge of ESA and develop its space industry system, thus improving its chances of winning contracts. At the end of the five-year period ESA will assess the progress made and decide whether the country is ready to become a full member of ESA or whether another five-year plan should be drawn up.

History

In October 1999, ESA organised a two-day Workshop in Budapest together with the Hungarian Space Office, with a view to analysing existing relations between ESA and its partners in Central and Eastern Europe, namely the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

The Workshop’s main objectives were to discuss the results of the existing cooperation and to present ESA’s new programmes and activities, as well as its administrative procedures and regulations. The space authorities from the four countries also presented their own space programmes and plans.

This meeting led to the creation of PECS.

In September 2001 the Agency held a workshop in Paris with representatives from the four European Cooperating States (ECS). The objective of the workshop was to present the different possibilities existing through this newly created ECS status and to understand the different views and possible concerns of our partners in order to proceed, on a bilateral basis, with the negotiations of the ECS Agreement with each interested country.

ECS Agreements were finalized with Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania. Hungary became the first country to convert the agreement into a PECS Charter in 2003, followed by the Czech Republic in 2004. Romania was the third in 2006. Poland became the fourth Cooperating State signing a PECS Charter in 2008.

The Czech Republic became a full member state of ESA on 8 July, 2008.

Possibilities

The new ECS Agreement opens up the possibility to increase the potential synergy between ESA programmes and the future plans in the space field for our European partners. The ECS Agreement better suits their current industrial and financial capacities than the closer Associate Membership. It creates a natural extension of the existing very fruitful collaboration and allows the four countries to participate in all Agency programmes and enables ESA to benefit from their expertise.

The PECS office

Bernard Zufferey, ESA PECS manager, can help cooperating states identify the type of ESA projects that are the most suitable. The PECS office is also available to provide guidance during the five years of the PECS Charter. For further information on the PECS programme, contact the PECS office using the Contact link in the top right column of this page.

Last update: 20 February 2012

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