Parliamentarians from 10 European countries met earlier this week in Brussels at the 8th European Interparliamentary Space Conference to discuss European space policy. Organised by the 2006 Belgian Presidency, the conference was held at the Belgian Senate in Brussels.
Each year this Conference brings together members of the European Interparliamentary Space Conference (EISC), the EU and ESA Member States. Representatives of the Space organisations in Russia, China and the Ukraine also attended the three-day Conference which started on Monday 12 June.
This year’s Conference organised presentations and discussions on:
- current European space projects – Galileo and GMES
- European space policy and international cooperation
- space applications
- human spaceflight
- space and education
The Conference was chaired by Belgian Senator, François Roelants du Viviers, the 2006 EISC Chairman. On 13 June the ESA Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain and Paul Weissenberg, representing the EC Vice-President and Enterprise Commissioner Verheugen, addressed the EISC respectively on ESA’s and EC’s views on European space policy.
All the topics under discussion at the Conference are of particular interest for Europe at this time as a number of important decisions regarding Europe’s future in space are now under discussion:
- the European Union is in the process of finalising the Financial Perspective 2007-2013, in which space has been assigned €1.43 billion under the 7th Framework Programme for Research & Technology
- ESA and the European Commission, together with the ESA and EU Member States, are preparing the European Space Policy, which should be endorsed by the Space Council in the first half of 2007
- European space industry is undergoing a restructuring process leading to a reduction in the number of main of players
The EISC, founded in 1999 by parliamentary groups from France, Germany, Italy and United Kingdom, shares information about space activities to increase understanding of national policies and priorities in space, as well as space awareness among decision-makers, and to review the challenges space offers Europe in a worldwide context.
EISC gives political and institutional managers an opportunity to assess, together, the impact of space technologies on the daily lives of Europe’s citizens and the future of industrial expertise in space programmes.
The Conference issues recommendations and adopts resolutions. Its members favour close cooperation through joint activities between the EC and ESA, national space agencies, scientists and industry to increase Europe’s space know-how.
At present the EISC is preparing an international workshop at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana from 19 to 22 September. The workshop, organised with the support of ESA, CNES and Arianespace, is on space, defence and security and will be attended by national representatives of the WEU (Western European Union) NATO, European space institutions, industry and specialists in European strategy for defence and security. Its aim is to evaluate how space systems can help meet Europe’s needs for defence and security.