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Procedure : 2013/2092(INI)
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Tuesday, 10 December 2013 - Strasbourg
EU space industrial policy

European Parliament resolution of 10 December 2013 on EU Space Industrial Policy, releasing the Potential for Growth in the Space Sector (2013/2092(INI))

The European Parliament,

—  having regard to Title XIX, Article 189 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as it relates to research and technological development and space policy and with particular reference to the drawing-up of a European space policy in order to promote scientific and technical progress, industrial competitiveness and the implementation of European Union policies,

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 February 2013 entitled ‘EU Space Industrial Policy’ (COM(2013)0108),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020: a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 October 2010 entitled ‘An integrated industrial policy for the Globalisation Era – Putting Competitiveness and Sustainability at Centre Stage’ (COM(2010)0614),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 October 2012 entitled ‘A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery’ (COM(2012)0582),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 4 April 2011 entitled ‘Towards a space strategy for the European Union that benefits its citizens’ (COM(2011)0152),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 November 2012 entitled ‘Establishing appropriate relations between the EU and the ESA’ (COM(2012)0671),

—  having regard to Council Decision 2004/578/EC of 29 April 2004 on the conclusion of the Framework Agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency(1),

—  having regard to the Council conclusions of 11 October 2010, 31 May 2011, 2 December 2011 and 30 May 2013,

—  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2012 on a space strategy for the European Union that benefits its citizens(2),

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

—  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A7-0338/2013),

A.  whereas Article 189 TFEU gives the European Union an explicit role in drawing up a European space policy, in order to promote scientific and technical progress, industrial competitiveness and the implementation of its policies;

B.  whereas, in view of increasing competition from newly emerging space-faring nations such as China and India, the political weight of the EU Member States in national terms may no longer suffice to address the challenges ahead in this sector;

C.  whereas space policy is a key element in the Europe 2020 strategy;

D.  whereas innumerable services which are used by members of the public in everyday life are directly or indirectly dependent on the space industry, such as television, high-speed internet, navigation systems or the Europe-wide automatic emergency call system eCall;

E.  whereas the European space industry has a consolidated turnover of EUR 6,5 billion and employs over 34 500 highly skilled people, and whereas in this period of economic difficulty the importance of that industry as a sector with strong growth and innovation potential, and as a creator of jobs with high added value, should be brought to the fore;

F.  whereas at present there is still not sufficient coordination of measures in the field of space policy between the EU, the Member States and the ESA, and whereas this has resulted in duplication of structures and prevented synergies from being sufficiently exploited; stresses that the introduction of a clear governance framework in the space sector would make for huge efficiency savings;

G.  whereas the ESA, as an intergovernmental organisation, has no formal relationship with the European Parliament, so that there is no direct feedback to citizens such as otherwise exists in all fields of Union policy;

H.  whereas the space industry is investment-intensive and has unusually long development cycles, so that consistency of planning plays a decisive role for it; whereas the visibility this provides will benefit greatly from the existence of a stable regulatory framework and a clear governance framework;

I.  whereas the operation of a European launcher system could help to secure independent access to space;

J.  whereas the EU is currently dependent on non-European military GNSS, and Galileo was conceived and developed and will remain under civilian control;

K.  whereas commercial sales play a substantially more important role for the European space industry than for its main international competitors;

L.  whereas satellite-based services play an important part in providing information for the growth sectors of the digital society and contribute to achieving the aims of the EU’s Digital Agenda;

M.  whereas experts estimate that in ten years’ time the market for satellite navigation and earth observation services could have a volume of USD 300 billion, and whereas even today between 6 % and 7 % of GDP in the western EU Member States is dependent on satellite navigation;

N.  whereas, because of growing demand for wireless communication services and the physical properties of wave propagation and the associated shortage of radio frequencies, the international coordination of spectrum use is increasingly important;

Basing space policy on European priorities

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication on EU Space Industrial Policy; considers that the Commission should concentrate on a limited number of space industrial policy measures as referred to in that communication, in order to genuinely exploit the potential for growth in the space industry;

2.  Stresses that all the actors involved in the governance of future EU space policies, including the Commission, the European GNSS Agency, the ESA, the national agencies and the specialised agencies such as EUMETSAT, must be interlinked and must operate on a long-term basis;

3.  Considers that the national agencies could come up with concrete proposals in this direction so that the Commission could streamline the input coming from the Member States and define an EU vision;

4.  Stresses that the Commission must, as soon as possible, give us a clear roadmap for GMES/Copernicus and for the development and deployment of the various Satellite Sentinels, as well as the legal and operational framework proposed for this complex system;

5.  Endorses the Commission’s intention of taking steps towards the establishment of a coherent EU space regulatory framework; advocates establishing a genuine EU internal market for space products and space-based services; considers it important that policy should be formulated and developed without its implementation adversely affecting or distorting commercial market conditions; observes that competitive neutrality and transparency are both cornerstones of the development of European space policy;

6.  Observes that the Commission does not yet have a horizontal approach with a view to mainstreaming space policy and its objectives into the various fields of policy of the Union; calls on the Commission to do so in future by taking space policy into account in such fields as telecommunications, transport, environment, agriculture, safety or culture;

7.  Welcomes the statement by the Commission that space-based telecommunications, navigation and earth observation provide the EU with strategically important knowledge underpinning its external relations in the field of development assistance and humanitarian aid;

8.  Calls on the Commission to assign priority to the following aspects: institutional issues; Galileo and Copernicus; the space industry as a generator of growth and employment; impact assessment of space-related activities; independent access to space; the role of R&D; satellite communication; space surveillance and tracking; and space debris;

9.  Supports the point made by the Commission that many components of space systems are dual-use or of a military nature and are hence subject to Directive 2009/43/EC of 6 May 2009 simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community(3), as amended by Directive 2012/47/EU of 14 December 2012 as regards the list of defence-related products, Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 of 5 May 2009 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual-use items(4), or the Common Position on arms exports; welcomes the proposal made in the communication to submit a formal report to Parliament on the dual-use export control system before the end of 2013; calls on the Commission, the Member States and the EU Council Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM) to clarify what regulatory framework should apply to each category of goods and technology;

Institutional affairs

10.  Recognises the successes which the ESA has achieved for Europe in the field of space missions in recent decades, and encourages non-ESA Member States to consider accession and increased cooperation; observes, however, that, in the long term, ways of achieving greater operational efficiency and political coordination and responsibility can be achieved by bringing the ESA and the EU closer together in their cooperation, inter alia so as to avoid duplication of activities and overlaps; calls on the Commission to investigate very carefully whether the ESA could, for example, in future be linked to the Union’s governance structures as an inter-state organisation as long as it is not felt to be appropriate to convert the ESA into a European agency;

11.  Considers that, in the meantime, the EU, in very close cooperation with the ESA, should coordinate the space policies and programmes of the Member States more than hitherto in order to adopt a genuine European approach, while ensuring that the interests of ESA and its member states are respected; observes that it is only by means of a European approach that the space industry can be given the opportunity to become, and also remain, competitive;

12.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and the ESA to establish a form of coordination group whose members should coordinate strategies and measures in the field of space at regular meetings in order to avoid duplication of structures and develop a common approach to international issues and forums;

13.  Notes that any increase in the use of space assets by the military must not reduce or limit civilian use and possible future civilian applications; calls on the Member States and the VP/HR to initiate a review of the now outdated 1967 Outer Space Treaty, or else to create a new regulatory framework that takes account of technological progress since the 1960s;

Galileo and Copernicus (GMES)

14.  Stresses that the completion of Galileo and the continuation of Copernicus should be assigned the highest priority as the flagships of European space policy, so that the first Galileo services can in practice be opened to the public in 2014;

15.  Underlines the fact that EGNOS is the first operational European GNSS programme; calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote and implement the use of EGNOS in various areas, such as transport;

16.  Deplores the fact that, in the past, delays have occurred in establishing the European satellite navigation programme Galileo; welcomes the fact that four satellites have now been launched into earth orbit; stresses that the advantages and utility of Galileo in particular and of a European space industry in general should be communicated to society more effectively, and calls on the Commission, in conjunction with future launches of Galileo satellites, to organise high-profile public events in EU capitals to promote Galileo and its potential applications;

17.  Stresses that the EU needs to inform people, attract future engineers, spread information about EU satellite navigation and propose a set of incentives for all users in order to use Galileo and EGNOS enabled technologies;

18.  Is convinced that the aim of Full Operating Capacity (FOC), based on a constellation of 27 satellites plus a suitable number of spare satellites and adequate ground infrastructure, is a prerequisite in order to realise the added value of Galileo, in terms in particular of high precision and uninterrupted service and thus reap numerous economic and societal benefits;

19.  Regrets that not all of the EU is currently covered by the EGNOS system, and calls for that system to be extended to southern, eastern and south‑eastern Europe, hence enabling its use throughout Europe;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to inform Parliament about plans to use the Copernicus programme and the public-regulated service of the Galileo programme in support of CSDP missions and operations;

The role of the space industry in driving growth and creating employment

21.  Observes that SMEs (not only SMEs, but nonetheless SMEs in particular) require a kind of pump-priming funding from the public sector to give them sufficient funds for long-term investment in R&D; is convinced that public funding and the existence of public customers for products and services of the space industry can drive innovation and thus generate growth and create jobs;

22.  Reiterates that the EU must not miss the opportunity to develop the satellite navigation downstream market, and underlines the importance of an action plan for the European GNSS Agency in order to expand the GNSS market, which will be crucial for the future of the EU economy;

23.  Recalls that new applications of satellite navigation can increase the safety, efficiency and reliability in areas including the aviation, maritime, road and agriculture sectors, road safety, fee collection, traffic and parking management, fleet management, emergency calls, goods tracking and tracing, online booking, safety of shipping, digital tachographs, animal transport, and sustainable land;

24.  Notes the fact mentioned in the communication that 60 % of electronics on board European satellites are currently imported from the US; calls for an initiative on how to protect sensitive or personal data in this context, and for use of the current public procurement process to ensure wherever possible that the purchase of space infrastructure from Member States is used as a further driver of growth in the sector;

25.  Urges the Commission, the ESA, the EDA and the Member States to identify critical technologies in the context of the joint European non-dependence process and to develop alternatives which are less dependent on third countries; recalls the risk that the US might, in the event of disagreement, close down or block European space infrastructure;

26.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to create incentives for European industry to develop space components at European level in order to reduce dependence on imports from third countries;

27.  Observes that undertakings from outside the space industry can benefit from products derived from space research; calls on all parties concerned, therefore, to develop exchanges between actors in the space and non-space industries and to work in partnership to develop technologies which can lead to pioneering innovations for the benefit of society; stresses the value of better publicising the tangible benefits that the space industry can bring to the daily lives of Europeans;

28.  Stresses that the space-based services and robotics industries, in particular, create numerous market opportunities, above all for SMEs;

29.  Stresses that autonomous and intelligent robotic systems are key technologies for the further exploration of space; points in this context to the efficient use of European funding from Horizon 2020, particularly for operations close to the market;

30.  Stresses that a suitable pool of highly skilled employees is key to a competitive European space industry; calls therefore on all parties concerned to step up cooperation between universities and industry and to encourage young talent, in particular female talent, to commit to this sector (e.g. by establishing national graduate programmes and training schemes as well as competitions for European and non-European researchers); observes furthermore that the acquisition of talent from third countries (including by attracting back European talent) is indispensable;

Access to space

31.  Stresses the importance of access to space for all Member States and of commercial sales for the European space industry; observes at the same time that access to institutional markets in third countries remains partially closed to the European industry; stresses the importance of equal initial conditions for the European industry at international level; calls on the Commission, therefore, to promote reciprocity and to ensure equal opportunities and fair competitive conditions in the context of trade agreements (e.g. TTIP);

32.  Stresses the importance of developing and operating European launchers for independent access to space; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States, jointly with the ESA, to maintain and expand a European launcher system and a rocket-launching service in the long term;

33.  Considers that the European space industry should make use of existing European space infrastructure, part of which was paid for using European public funds;

The role of research and development

34.  Welcomes, additionally, the fact that under the new Framework Programme for Research (Horizon 2020) the sum of EUR 1,5 billion is to be invested in space research and innovation; calls on the Commission, furthermore, in the context of Horizon 2020, to make part of the budget available for R&D relating to applications of satellite communication;

35.  Considers that, particularly in the field of research, greater coordination between the EU, the ESA and the Member States is needed; calls on all three parties to develop a joint ‘research roadmap’ for the period ending in 2020, and to define priorities and objectives for space policy which should be attained jointly, in order to provide consistency of planning for the actors involved, particularly in industry; stresses the importance of research cooperation with third countries;

36.  Stresses that the development of GNSS applications and services is essential in order to ensure that the infrastructure investment which Galileo represents is fully exploited and that the Galileo system is developed to its full capacity; stresses the need to ensure that the appropriate funding is provided for research and development in respect of GNSS and for its implementation; regrets the fact that the reduction in the funding allocated to research and innovation for applications based on EGNOS and Galileo is considerably delaying technological progress and the growth of industrial capacity, as well as environmentally effective implementation, in the EU, and therefore urges the Commission to introduce arrangements enabling SMEs to access funding more easily;

37.  Observes that the development of innovative applications in Europe is hampered by various obstacles; reminds the Commission, therefore, that there is an untapped market for the commercial exploitation of space-based data generated by earth observation and satellite programmes; calls on the Commission to conduct a study to identify these obstacles (such as: liability for damage caused by space objects/debris; uncertainty regarding the availability of services; reservations with regard to security and data protection; inadequate awareness of potential; and lack of interoperability), and to put forward possible proposals concerning ways of opening up such markets;

Satellite communication

38.  Stresses that satellite communication plays an important role within the European space industry, as orders from this sector provide continuous uses for spacecraft and launchers and thus contribute to the objective of independent access to space for the EU; draws attention, in this context, to the role of independent payload capacity which becomes available when launching commercial satellites (for ‘hosted payloads’) which can be used to try out new products and technologies in space and thus helps to reduce both the costs and the time required to be able to offer new services;

39.  Stresses that satellite communication is an efficient way of providing multimedia services, also to those in industry and society whom it has hitherto been impossible to serve by means of terrestrial technologies;

40.  Stresses that satellite networks help to meet the EU Digital Agenda targets with a view to achieving total broadband internet coverage in the EU, particularly in remote areas; calls on the Commission, therefore, to ensure that, with reference to technological neutrality, the satellite internet is appropriately taken into account in the technology mix to be used to expand broadband, for example in the EU’s cohesion policy;

41.  Observes that satellite communication is taking on an increasingly important logistical function in crises such as natural disasters or in maintaining internal security, as its data and communication links are vital in situations in which no terrestrial infrastructure exists or it has been destroyed;

42.  Calls on the Commission, therefore, to analyse the current availability of, and future need for, radio frequencies for satellite communication, and to ensure at the next ITU World Radio Communications Conference that the EU’s interests and those of the satellite communication industry in the field of global and regional spectrum allocation are defended appropriately;

43.  Considers that the potential for innovation in the field of satellite communication has not by any means been exhausted; draws attention to the potential of the latest technologies, such as Laser Communication Terminals (LCT) or High Throughput Satellites (HTS), to meet the need for ever-increasing exchanges of data at ever-higher data rates;

44.  Stresses that Europe can only maintain its technological advance in satellite communication if research efforts in this field are continued at European level;

Space debris

45.  Stresses that space-based infrastructure constitutes the backbone of many services used by industry and society in everyday life; observes that loss of access to this infrastructure, for example due to collisions between satellites and other space objects or debris, could impair the safety of economic actors and members of the public;

46.  Observes that space debris is a growing problem; calls on the Commission and the Member States to work towards global governance for space; calls on the Commission and the Member States, at the same time, to encourage third countries to sign the Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities drawn up by the EU through all diplomatic channels;

47.  Calls on the Commission to support the establishment at European level, as quickly as possible, of the programme proposed at the beginning of this year to support observation and tracking of objects in space, in order to ensure greater independence from the institutions in the US that issue warnings of collisions;

o   o

48.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ L 261, 6.8.2013, p. 63.
(2) OJ C 227 E, 6.8.2013, p. 16.
(3) OJ L 146, 10.6.2009, p.1.
(4) OJ L 134, 29.5.2009, p.1.

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