An Ambitious Space Industrial Policy Must Be the Cornerstone of the "Space Strategy for Europe"

  • June 22, 2016

June 22, 2016 - The Space Group of the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD-Eurospace) welcomes the initiative of the European Parliament’s Sky and Space Intergroup (SSI) to discuss the necessity to release the growth potential of the Space industrial sector.

Monika Hohlmeier, MEP, President of the Sky and Space Intergroup, opened the discussions by underlining the European space policy’s success story. She called upon all stakeholders to launch an information campaign showing the importance of a new Space Strategy, to remind that the space sector does not only influence research of the universe but is essential in each European’s daily life, from mobile phone usage to weather forecast and financial transactions. Former European Commissioner and current Honorary President of the Sky and Space Intergroup, MEP Antonio Tajani also highlighted that “implementing a strong space industrial policy is crucial to ensure our continent’s leadership in space considering that the space sector has a clear strategic dimension: competitiveness is paramount”.

MEP Cora Van Nieuwenhuizen specified that Europe needs more space entrepreneurs exploiting the data generated by Galileo and Copernicus, while addressing a plea to the audience: “more awareness-raising is needed vis-à-vis our space flagship programmes”, indicating that “the European Commission is on the right path”.

DG GROW Director General Lowri Evans thanked Mrs Hohlmeier for organising a Sky & Space Intergroup event “at a very timely moment”. Indeed, “the European Commission has been adopting an inclusive approach to make sure that all relevant the stakeholders would be consulted”. For Mrs Evans, “the space sector worldwide is moving fast. We have to elaborate a long-term vision supported by concrete actions, allowing our industry to remain competitive”. She stressed that: “Commissioner Bieńkowska's goal is to bring the benefit of space to earth, to the European economy and to the EU citizens. For this purpose, the support of the European Parliament is absolutely key”.

Complementing Lowri Evans’ speech, ESA Director General Johann- Dietrich Wörner elaborated his vision of a “United space in Europe”, where “space should be fully integrated into European economy and society”. He also developed his ambition for a “space 4.0 with the advent of smart factory and Internet of Things, to enable Europe to tackle global challenges such as shortage of natural resources and to preserve our European heritage”. He added that “promoting a globally competitive space sector and European action of freedom in space are top priorities for ESA in view of the next Ministerial Council”. He stressed that “all this requires excellence in space science and technology”.

Jean- Loïc Galle, President of ASD-Eurospace and CEO of Thales Alenia Space, recalled the three priorities of the European space industry for the Space Strategy: “Supporting the industry’s competitiveness is essential. In Europe, where public investments are several times smaller than in other space powers, the European space industry relies heavily upon the commercial business and export sales, which is both a sign of our competitiveness and a challenge as we are facing increasing competition at international level.” Mr Galle also recommended that Europe make “a better and increased use of the – insufficiently tapped – capacities of space to create growth and to support and improve public policies (in particular in the areas where space can contribute to achieving the sectoral objectives set out by the EU in the fields of environment, transport, security & defence or digital economy).” Finally, Mr Galle reminded that “Europe’s non-dependence in space needs to be guaranteed; this implies the capacity to conceive, develop, launch, operate and exploit cost-effectively space systems, but also the necessity to rely on an unrestricted access to state-of-the-art technology.”

Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, echoed Jean-Loïc Galle’s concerns and showed that the most important space powers “allocate to their domestic launchers exclusive access to a substantial civil and military governmental market, through long-term procurement contracts: we are fighting against totally different business models on an unequal footing.” To keep the European industry competitive and maintain its leadership, Mr Israel proposed in particular to “support a level playing field for commercial and institutional launches, develop a dedicated long-term procurement policy and bulk purchases for European institutional payloads”.

In response to MEP Angelika Niebler's question about stimulating a downstream ecosystem, Robbie Schingler, cofounder and MD for Planet Labs Europe stated, "We don't know how to create a downstream market, so together as a global community we will need to figure it out. But there is no place better than Europe to make this happen: the policies are in place, major programs like Copernicus are operational.” Mr Schingler called the global community to “Experiment and create a learning community to get the contextual information feeds inherent in Earth Observation data activated to the web, and have them streaming into decision-making systems for entrepreneurs to solve problems for agriculture, water, energy, logistics, and security applications."

By way of conclusion, Monika Hohlmeier, supported by MEP Jacqueline Foster, emphasised the strong commitment of the European Parliament to achieve a timely and ambitious Space Strategy, with sufficient budgetary support for research, innovative projects and risk investments.