Following a two-day meeting of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ruling Council the Ministers responsible for space in the ESA’s 17 Member States and Canada formulated a coherent plan for discovery and competitiveness for Europe in space. They accordingly endorsed the continuation of a set of ongoing programmes and agreed to undertake major new initiatives designed to give Europe a clear vision and tangible means to further strengthen its space exploration and exploitation activities. They emphasised the need for Europe to maintain a competitive space sector able to lead the search for new discoveries, guarantee access to strategic data and new services, and consolidate its share of the global commercial market.

The Ministers reaffirmed the strategic importance of Europe continuously improving its scientific, technological and industrial capabilities in the field of space so as to enable it to better respond to the expectations of its citizens concerning the environment, quality of life and security. They also noted the increase in the volume and quality of the Agency’s relations with its international partners. The Ministers recognised that the global scenario in the space sector is evolving rapidly, in particular with increasing numbers of players mastering major space technologies and offering competitive conditions for civil and dual-use applications.

A major political step was achieved with the approval of an overall European launcher policy ensuring coherence between the launcher and satellite fields. The Ministers also recognised that it is crucial to continuously foster European cooperation on space activity by further developing an overall European Space Policy encompassing ESA, the European Union, plus national and industrial programmes, and to allocate the available resources and capabilities to common European initiatives, so as to achieve the critical mass needed to face the worldwide competition.