On 15 December, Mr José Mariano Gago, Minister of Science and Technology, and Mr. Antonio Rodotà, Director General of ESA, will sign an Agreement on Portugal's accession to the ESA Convention. The ceremony will take place at ESA Headquarters in Paris at 11:00.
Under this Agreement, Portugal will become the fifteenth full Member State of ESA by 1 July 2000 at the latest (*). In October 1998 Mr Gago, sent the ESA Director General Portugal's formal request to become a full Member State. The request was submitted on 24 June 1999 to ESA's Council, which unanimously approved the principle of this accession. On the 14th of December ESA's council is expected to approve the terms of the Agreement.
Portugal is already involved in some of ESA's optional programmes in the field of satellite navigation through a bilateral cooperation agreement signed in 1996. It has expressed interest in contributing to activities in the fields of space science, technology and applications (remote sensing and telecommunications in addition to satellite navigation). A cooperation programme in the field of training was set up in 1998 to host young Portuguese engineers at ESA establishments. "We warmly welcome Portugal to the European Space Agency," said ESA's Director General Antonio Rodotà, "Portugal, which is already an integral part of the European scenario, will now, as we enter the new millennium, be able to share the benefits of cooperation in space activities," he added.
A press conference will follow the signature ceremony at ESA Headquarters in Paris. Media representatives wishing to attend are kindly requested to complete the attached form and return it by fax (+ 33 1 53697690) to ESA Public Relations.
(*) The other 14 Member States of ESA are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
For further information:
ESA Public Relations
Tel: + 33 1 5369 7155
Fax: + 33 1 5369 7690
More info on ESA at http://www.esa.int