European space policy: Historical perspective, specific aspects and key challenges

30-01-2017

Space has been a cooperative endeavour in Europe for over 50 years. The first collaborative structures between the Member States in the 1960s led to the establishment of the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1975. The European Union began to be involved in the field in the 1990s, especially through the design of EU space programmes – Galileo for satellite navigation and Copernicus for earth observation – implemented in cooperation with ESA. European space policy is defined and implemented by the EU, ESA and their member states. This diversity offers some flexibility, but also creates fragmentation, leading to inefficiency in areas such as the implementation of EU programmes or the development of international relations. New developments, including the role of private actors in the field and the growing importance of security and defence aspects also challenge current European space policy governance.

Space has been a cooperative endeavour in Europe for over 50 years. The first collaborative structures between the Member States in the 1960s led to the establishment of the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1975. The European Union began to be involved in the field in the 1990s, especially through the design of EU space programmes – Galileo for satellite navigation and Copernicus for earth observation – implemented in cooperation with ESA. European space policy is defined and implemented by the EU, ESA and their member states. This diversity offers some flexibility, but also creates fragmentation, leading to inefficiency in areas such as the implementation of EU programmes or the development of international relations. New developments, including the role of private actors in the field and the growing importance of security and defence aspects also challenge current European space policy governance.