The House gave its green light to Copernicus, the EU’s new Earth Observation System, on Wednesday, endorsing a deal struck with the Council last December. Replacing the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme, Copernicus has a budget of €4,291.48 million for 2014-2020. Its data will serve many purposes, including monitoring climate change and protecting public security.
Vittorio Prodi (S&D, IT), who steered the legislation through Parliament, said: "New satellites will be launched in the coming years to collect global data." The key purpose of Copernicus was, he said, "to benefit European citizens in a variety of fields, specifically for environment and climate change purposes".
He added: "The environmental monitoring of air, water and soil will help improve health, for instance. Other applications can aid significantly agriculture activities. Copernicus will also support public authorities in disaster management when there are natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, fires and floods, as well as man-made accidents like oil spills."
Providing information in vital areas free of charge
Copernicus will ensure access to full, open and free-of-charge information in the areas of land, marine environment, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management and security, say MEPs. This data will be gathered from several Earth observation satellites and a multitude of sensors on the ground, at sea or in the air.
For instance, Copernicus data on water quality will help public authorities to enhance protection of bathing waters, or predict algal blooms. Marine safety will be enhanced with data on currents, winds and sea ice, which will help improve ship-routing services or search and rescue operations.
The new system will also provide data on climate (e.g. temperature increase, sea level rise, ice sheet melting, warming up of the ocean), solar radiation, flood forecasts, greenhouse gases, reactive gases, ozone and aerosols.
Under the deal, the text says Copernicus should be considered as a European contribution to building the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
Parliament secured a reference in the text to the need for a clear breakdown of the programme's €4,291.48 million budget for 2014-2020, while maintaining the flexibility needed to switch funds from one category to another, thus ensuring a longer-term approach to providing services.
The regulation will enter into force as soon as it has been published in the Official Journal of the EU, following the Council's formal approval.