Highlights of the 3rd European Space Policy Workshop
The Third European Space Policy Workshop Key Challenges for Space Policy with Focus on Applications and Human Spaceflight took place on 8 September 2003 at the Castle of Arenberg of the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. The half-day Workshop was co-organized by the University's Institute for International Law and the Brussels-based space and telecommunications consultancy Systemics Network International. Go to the workshop Programme for links to the texts of speeches and presentations thathave been made available.
Background. Much had occurred since the previous workshops in September 2002 and January 2003, notably the holding of a public consultation over the first half of 2003 based on a Green Paper on European Space Policy prepared by the European Commission jointly with the European Space Agency. The organizers, who had supported the consultation process as experts to the CEC/ESA Joint Task Force, therefore structured the programme to provide an opportunity for the space related community and space policymakers to exchange information and views at this critical time between the close of the Green Paper consultation and the issue of a White Paper. The White Paper will set down the lines of future policy for the European Union.
The workshop's twelve high-level speakers gave a tour de force of the major policy topics included in the programme. The first panel, on the development of an overall European space policy, included the political figures Mr Philippe Busquin, European Commissioner for Research, Mr Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General, Belgian science minister Mrs Fientje Moerman and a representative of Italy, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union. The second panel was devoted to key areas for policymaking and included European Astronaut Frank de Winne and sectoral leaders. The panels were chaired by Prof Jan Wouters and Dr Kevin Madders, the organizers.
Prof Dr Marc Vervenne, Vice-Rector of KU Leuven, welcomed the speakers and participants, noting that, with this third workshop, a tradition of holding European Space Policy Workshops at KU Leuven had now been firmly established. The steady success of the workshop series was appreciated by the University, which now looked forward to the establishment of aa European Space Policy Forum to carry the process forward into the future in a structured, long-term manner.
He pointed out that the Third Workshop was attended not only by space professionals but also by the students participating in the 12th European Summer Course on Space Law and Policy of the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL). (KU Leuven established its own space law and policy course in 2001.) Bringing together policy-makers, experts and young people interested in space was exactly in line with the hopes expressed during the Green Paper consultations and will certainly contribute to raising the enthusiasm and motivation among the young interested in space affairs.
Mr Hugues Dumont, Head of Cabinet of Mrs Moerman, the Belgian Federal Minister for Industry, Commercial and Research Policy, explained that he was delivering Minister Moerman's speech for her, as she had to chair a ministerial meeting abroad. The minister expressed her pleasure at the holding of the Workshop, which came at an important point for Europe but also shortly after the new Belgian government had been appointed. Space is a priority area in Belgium. The country has over decades shown its strong commitment to space, from taking a prominent role in the past in addressing European policy issues, to Ariane's development and to human spaceflight (Europe now has two astronauts of Belgian nationality). A satellite developed for carrying Belgian instrumentation has been launched, while Belgium participates widely across ESA science and applications programmes. Belgium fully supports the citizen-oriented approach to European space policy that is now being developed. It is clear that all Member States of the EU must contribute to building a knowledge-driven society.
Commissioner Busquin welcomed the Workshop as very timely and expressed his hope that the workshops would continue. The Green Paper had shown a lively interest in Europe in to openopening up a new era in space and the consultations had confirmed that Europe needed independent and top-class space capabilities based on a strong and competitive industry. New thinking was required so that new applications, including GMES, meet real needs in a sustainable way. Public-private initiatives should be explored, taking the example of Galileo as a testbed. Satellite communications offered the prospect of broadband for all, even beyond Europe's borders. For success, a critical mass of demand and supply must be achieved at European level. Another condition is to form strong international partnerships. Recently, the Commissioner had learnt of South African developments, and had received a request for close collaboration with Europe. This is one of several examples of stronger interest from abroad.
For all of these elements of policy, Europe needs solid competences and to be well organized.
In this regard, all of the EU institutions are now alerted of the need for a new space policy, and a Resolution of the European Parliament will shortly be adopted. He announced that the Commission was advanced in its drafting of the White Paper on European Space Policy. This is being conducted in cooperation with the European Space Agency, and is due for approval by the Council of Ministers in November 2003. He also noted with satisfaction that an article on space policy has been included in the new draft EU Constitutional Treaty. This provides for a horizontal policy at the service of many policy areas. He looked forward, too, to new arrangements specific to space in the EU budget. A new institutional framework will be developed with ESA, building on a Framework Agreement that is close to completion.
Mr Busquin underlined that in order to achieve a forward-looking and a knowledge-driven Europe, it was necessary to invest significantly in space capacity, research, applications and technology. He closed with the strongest endorsement of all these endeavours, noting that "investing in space capacity is the best investment for our future".
Mr Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General, noted that the Duke of Arenberg (after which the Castle is named) sponsored the first coal-gas balloon flight in 1783 using a sponsorship an agreement showing parallels to modern space contracts. Today, the Castle's academic mission allows is allowing ideas on European space policy to be pitted against each other with the necessary detachment. In this spirit ESA has supported the initiative of the European Space Policy Workshops and participated actively in their debates. He hoped therefore that this workshop would contribute to clarifying what is at stake and help define the roles each should be playing at the service of Europe's citizens.
Mr Dordain recalled that Europe cannot avoid being a prominent actor, thanks to its having 1/3 of world GNP. This brings duties that are associated with political, economic and scientific power, whether one speaks of advancing knowledge, peacekeeping, or conservation of the planet's resources. To fully play its role fully, Europe must develop the means for doing so, and space capabilities are sometimes uniquely appropriate. He referred here to European capabilities, but noted that the US had integrated its space systems fully within its political agenda. Europe by contrast had not, and played a role far from commensurate with its weight in the world. European space policy therefore, at a time of Europe's enlargement, needed to be "enlarged". Recounting previous developments in this regard, he affirmed that the goal must be this time to establish an overall policy that integrated not merely "supply" elements but also the demand - in transport, environment, the information society, security, and so on - that is generated by other European policy areas. ESA-EU cooperation has a solid basis because the two organizations are entirely complementary, with ESA bringing space resources to bear and the EU the requirements for action in the 21st century. Funding synergies must reflect the complementary character of the two organizations and not try to achieve a lowest common denominator.
Institutionally, the fact of separate evolution up to now leaves us all with the queston of how ESA's position should be defined within the EU framework. ESA will thereby must acquire a legitimacy it currently lacks, to the detriment of all sides. The Director-General will therefore proposes that ESA Member States agree to start quickly on a wide-ranging analysis to that will act as a basis for "a genuine refounding" of Europe's public space sector within the framework of its institutions and involving too will also involve national agencies. For its part, Tthe new ESA-EU Framework Agreement will create a system of cooperation over four years that will deepen relations and trust in relation to concrete programmes. Proceeding with such programmes should raise space activity in Europe by nearly a third and be accompanied by a relationship with the future European Armaments Research and Military Capabilities Agency. A decision should be taken in 2007 on the organization of the European public space sector. This must be taken into account in the draft EU Constitutional Treaty. Concluding, Mr Dordain expressed his own commitment to making ESA become "the ideal solution for the EU", provided that this was a solution that added real value in the sense of doing more space activities for Europe's citizens and was in the service of realizing a role on the world stage commensurate with Europe's potential and expectations.
Mr Luc Tytgat, Head of the Space Policy Unit at the European Commission, presented the results of the Green Paper consultation in relation to the questions it had posed. The main components for Europe to pursue were:
An independent launching capability
He noted areas not addressed or addressed in any great detail in the Green Paper that had aroused major discussion. In the international arena, there is a balance to be struck between pursuit of autonomy and achievement of goals through cooperation. International cooperation remains an attractive option and is not, in fact, incompatible with the objective of European autonomy within a coherent approach. Human spaceflight clearly demands more attention in a policy than it has recently received, not least for its vocational impact. Security too requires major attention in the White Paper. Institutionally, the consultation affirmed the EU's role at the strategic level, while ESA is a very good example of how to organize space programmes. The idea of a shared EU/Member State competence in the new EU Constitutional Treaty attracted very broad support. In terms of participation in events 42% came from industry, 27% from the government sector, and 6% from universities. The consultation's web forum received 200-300 hits a day were received on the consultation's web forum.
Prof. Dr. Stephan Hobe, Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law, University of Cologne, recalled the overarching imperative stated in the Bildt report that Europe must establish a closer relationship between space activities and EU policies. He recalled that the IGC will meet in October 2003 in Rome to discuss the draft EU Constitutional Treaty and referred to the provisions relating to space in the draft. His Institute has been pursuing for some time analysis of institutional questions and models relative to institutional realignment between ESA and the EU. This analysis reveals multiple legal issues, including ones of procedures, differing memberships, the potential of interference of laws, and the interpretation of primary relative to secondary EU law, particularly as to ESA's rules on the geographical distribution of contracts. Against this background, he cited four possible models of institutional arrangements between the European Union and ESA:
A general cooperation agreement between ESA and the EU, where both
organisations remain independent but define their partnership tasks
by way of treaty.
No model was free from complications. No. 1 might well not go far enough. No. 2 raises the question of whether it is possible to distinguish between "policy" and "programme" decisions. While No. 3 can be supported by numerous examples, such agencies are normally established by Regulation and remain under the control of Commission. This might undermine ESA's role. No. 4 meets understandable resistance on the EU side as it does not satisfy the needs of institutional reconstruction. The Framework Agreement does not provide much guidance (as it is only the first step). What is most significant, however, is the insertion of a shared competence for space in the draft EU Constitutional Treaty. Even if all options are still left open by this approach, the Constitution will inevitably increase the mandate of the EU and the tendency would seem to be in the direction of ESA becoming some form of executive agency. Prof. Hobe mentioned in more detail some of the possible intermediate variants on the models presented. One of the negative features of maintaining independent structures was the complexity in decision-making, as unanimity could be involved on both sides. A Space Council could be created to overcome this, but other questions then arose in this regard, notably including as concerns funding mechanisms.
Mr Giuseppe Morsillo, Head of Strategic Planning and Control at the Italian Space Agency, speaking on behalf of the Italian Government, noted that the Italian government EU Presidency considered space not only as a resource of extraterritorial nature, requiring a set of intergovernmental rules for its use, but as an asset serving a variety of objectives and policies with returns of a strategic, social and commercial nature.
The Italian Presidency considers that two major goals can and should be accomplished within 2003: