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N° 22–1998: Towards New Horizons

24 June 1998

ESA Council Meeting - Brussels on 23-24 June 1998

The Council of the European Space Agency meeting in Brussels on 23-24 June 1998 at the invitation of Yvan Ylieff, the Belgian Minister for Science Policy and Chairman of ESA's Council at Ministerial Level decided on greater coordination between ESA and the European Union. It adopted a Resolution on Immediate Measures and Preparatory Steps towards the Council Meeting at Ministerial Level related to the Agency's New Programmes and its Evolution and approved :

* the initiation of the first step of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS-2), leading to the choice of the best system and associated technology for a European initiative in the context of a strong European coordination;

* the definition and start-up of activities related to the "Living Planet Programme" in Earth Observation;

- the first step in the development of a more powerful version of Ariane-5, Ariane-5 plus, to ensure its continued competitiveness on the international launcher market; * the first step in preparing the development of a small launcher called VEGA. - 2 -

Furthermore, the Resolution on the Reinforcement of the Synergy between the European Space Agency and the European Union was adopted. This document, which had been endorsed by the EU Research Ministers in Luxembourg under the chairmanship of John Battle, the UK Minister of State for Science, Energy & Industry on the previous day (22 June), opens a new era of cooperation between the two organisations. It calls for the further strengthening of relations and encourages more initiatives at strategic level for developing a common vision, particularly in the fields of telecommunications, navigation and Earth observation to enhance the effectiveness of public investment in these programmes for the benefit of both users and European industry.

Finally, Council adopted exceptional measures leading to a better handling of the financial risks associated with its programmes. It also welcomed the measures taken by the Director General to adapt the Agency to the new realities, inviting him to continue to pursue his efforts for increased efficiency in conducting Europe's space programmes and strengthening support to European industry in order to further enhance its world-wide competitiveness and market share.

The Brussels meeting, which represents an important milestone in preparation for the next ESA Ministerial Council, was preceded by a ceremony to mark the 25th Anniversary of the 1973 European Space Conference, which laid the foundations for ESA and its programmes. During the celebration, the Ministers present expressed their recognition of the range and extent of the achievements of Europe's space programmes over the past twenty-five years. They highlighted the successes in the launcher, space science, satellite communications and Earth observation areas, which have put Europe among the world's leading players in space. They also reaffirmed their continuing loyalty to the future role of ESA as the focal point for Europe's space efforts.


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