Today ESA and the EC have set up a Joint Task Force to implement the European Strategy for Space endorsed by the European Research Council and by ESA's Council at Ministerial level in Brussels on 16 November 2000 (see ESA press release N° 74-2000 of 16/11/2000).
The main objectives of the European Strategy for Space – jointly prepared by the EC and ESA - are (1) to strengthen the foundation for space activities in Europe, (2) to enhance scientific knowledge for a better understanding of our planet, the solar system and the Universe, and (3) to reap the benefits for markets and society through exploitation of technical space capabilities.
The main missions of the Joint Task Force are to monitor the implementation of this strategy, to propose a framework enabling ESA to act as implementing agency with respect to EU policy on space, and to prepare a report on European space activities for submission to the EU and ESA Councils and the European Parliament by the end of 2001.
At today’s meeting the work plan for the coming year was endorsed. The group’s first concrete activities consist of a thorough analysis of the present situation concerning the Galileo project and a common effort to deepen the initiative for Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES).
On this occasion, Antonio Rodotà, Director General of ESA, made the following statement: "The Joint Task Force is continuing and developing our shared effort in 2000, effort which led to joint endorsement of the European Strategy for Space by the ESA and EU Councils. With the Joint Task Force, Europe is taking another step towards a new era in which space systems will become an integral part of the overall political and economic drive to promote the interests of Europe’s citizens".
On the EU side the Research Commissioner, Philippe Busquin, declared :"The set-up and work of this Joint Task Force illustrate the role that I see for the Commission in developing a true space policy for Europe and in getting everyone to work together around common goals. It is a concrete step in building a European Research Area, in a field that is of strategic interest to Europe and can bring concrete benefits to citizens, for example in improved monitoring of our environment or a more efficient transport system ".