EUROPEAN SPACE: A NEW MOMENTUM
The Council of the European Space Agency (ESA), met at Ministerial Level in Toulouse at the invitation of the French Government, on 18, 19 and 20 October 1995. The meeting was chaired by Mr Yvan Ylieff, the Belgian Minister for Science Policy.
The meeting was attended by Ministers and senior representatives of the fourteen Member States of the Agency and Canada (Cooperating State). The Commission of the European Union, Eumetsat and Eutelsat attended as observers.
This conference was of critical significance for the future of European space activities. The Ministers adopted two Resolutions and subscribed five Declarations entering into force with immediate effect, thus providing a solid budget basis for the programme decisions.
The Ministers welcomed the report of the Long-Term Space Policy Committee (LSPC). They expressed their wish that such long-term strategic reflections on European space policy be continued. In particular, they expressed their satisfaction with the ESA concept for a four-phase lunar programme and the intention to study precursor missions as a first step.
The Ministers took major and far-reaching decisions in five areas:
The 1996 - 2000 Level of Resources for the Mandatory Programme
Recognising that the Scientific Programme constitutes a fundamental and highly successful element of the Agency's activities, Council unanimously approved the Level of Resources for the mandatory activities for the years 1996 - 2000, covering the Agency's Scientific Programme and the General Budget. Funding for the Scientific Programme will now be constant for the next five years.
The Ministers endorsed the Horizon 2000 Plus long-term plan, thereby ensuring programme continuity.
Use of the ECU
The Ministers unanimously decided to introduce the ECU as the Agency's currency unit in order to provide greater stability in the day-to-day financial operations.
The Ministers discussed ESA's industrial policy in detail. They expressed solidarity for the purpose of solving the issue of past imbalances in industrial returns and asked the Director General to review the Agency's procurement practices in order to make execution of its programmes more effective. They set up a Council Working Group composed of high-level representatives from the Member States to improve ESA's industrial policy. Based on the final report of this Group, the Director General will formulate a proposal for reforms to be put before the next Council at Ministerial Level.
Europe's participation in the International Space Station Recognising that the International Space Station project is the most important cooperative endeavour ever undertaken, with significant scientific, technical and political benefits, the Ministers agreed the funding for the European contribution to the project. They subscribed, with immediate effect, the Declaration covering the development of the Columbus Orbital Facility (COF) and the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which is to be launched by Ariane-5 to service the Space Station. Definition studies for a Crew Transport Vehicle (CTV) and utilisation preparation activities were also approved in the framework of the Declaration. The Ministers also gave a clear commitment to support the exploitation phase.
The Ariane-5 Complementary Programmes
The Ministers stressed the importance they attach to European autonomous access to space, which will bring political and economic benefits to Europe. They subscribed, with immediate effect, the Declarations covering
-the Ariane-5 Evolution programme to adapt the launcher to evolving user requirements;
-the Ariane-5 Infrastructure programme to place the launcher on an equal footing with its competitors;
- -the Ariane-5 ARTA programme to maintain and consolidate Ariane-5's reliability.
Directions for the Future
The Ministers welcomed the Director General's proposal to:
-build on the existing achievements of the Earth Observation programme, by proposing research and applications missions based on the Earth Explorer and Earth Watch concepts;
-put forward specific programme proposals for new advanced telecommunications applications, such as a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), in conjunction with users;
-draw up a proposal for a future Launcher Preparatory Programme to validate new technologies and concepts for a new generation of launchers;
- -pursue the concept of small missions, working together with the Member States, industry and research organisations.
The Ministers asked the Director General to intensify the dialogue with other space organisations in Europe, and in particular with the Commission of the European Union, to ensure synergy of their respective activities and thereby reinforce Europe's position in world-wide space activities.