EU Space Programme

In “A Europe Fit for the Digital Age”

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For a brief overview of the key points of the adopted text and its significance for the citizen, please see the corresponding summary note.

On 6 June 2018, the European Commission presented the new Space Programme for the period 2021-2027. This aims to ensure investment continuity in EU space activities, encourage scientific and technical progress and support the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the European space industry. It will bring together the existing infrastructure and services and introduce new features, such as:

  • safeguarding continuity and evolution of Galileo and EGNOS, the EU's global and regional satellite navigation systems as well as Copernicus, the EU's free and open Earth observation programme;
  • developing new security components, such as the performance and autonomy of Space and Situational Awareness (SSA) or the new Governmental Satellite Communication (GOVSATCOM);
  • fostering a strong and innovative space industry, by improving access for space start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to risk finance, facilitating access to testing and processing facilities, or promoting certification and standardisation;
  • maintaining the EU's autonomous access to space, for example by aggregating the EU demand for launch services and investments in innovative technology, such as reusable launchers;
  • unifying and simplifying the system of governance, introducing a single Regulation to allow for streamlined ways of simpler cooperation between all institutional actors.

For the period of 2021-2027, the Commission proposed a budget of €16 billion in current prices, which equals €14.2 billion in constant 2018 prices, allocated as follows: €9.7 billion for Galileo and EGNOS; €5.8 billion for Copernicus; and €0.5 billion for SSA and GOVSATCOM.

On 12 June 2018, the European Parliament's lead committee, the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee, appointed Massimiliano Salini (EPP, Italy) as rapporteur. The ITRE committee adopted the report on 21 November 2018, which was endorsed by the plenary on 13 December with a mandate to enter into informal negotiations with the Council. During the second trilogue on 26/27 February 2019, co-legislators reached a partial agreement, which was subsequently amended to take account of some reservations posed by the Commission. On 13 March 2019, Council presented an updated partial agreement. The ITRE committee adopted this agreement on 25 March 2019, and the plenary on 17 April 2019.

The key points of the agreement are:

  • the regulation establishes the space programme as well as the EU Agency for the Space Programme that replaces and succeeds the European GNSS Agency (as proposed by the Commission);
  • Parliament asks for an increase of the budget from €16 billion to €16.9 billion in current prices: for Galileo and EGNOS €9.7 billion; for Copernicus €6 billion (Commission had proposed €5.8 billion); for SSA/GOVSATCOM €1.2 billion (Commission had proposed €0.5 billion);
  • the financial framework partnership agreement defines the roles, responsibilities and obligations of the Commission, the EU Agency for the Space Programme and the ESA;
  • in order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of the space programme's security requirements, implementing powers should be conferred on the Commission;
  • to increase the participation of SMEs, for contracts above ten million Euro, the contracting authority shall ensure that at least 30% of the value of the contract is subcontracted to companies outside the group of the prime contractor, notably in order to enable the cross-border participation of SMEs.

Provisions related to the protection of security interests, ownership and licence rights, the participation of third countries and/or international organisations in the space programme, and the budgetary issues were left outside at this stage.

In reaction to the global coronavirus pandemic, on 29 May 2020, the Commission presented a revised proposal for the 2021-2027 MFF, using President Michel’s proposal as a basis. The core MFF stands at €1100 billion (or €1.1 trillion), topped up by €750 billion from the European Recovery instrument / ‘NextGenerationEU’ (NGEU). Concerning the EU Space Programme, the Commission supported President Michel’s proposal of €13.2 billion (constant 2018 prices), which was well below the Parliament's proposed envelope of of €15 billion (in constant 2018 prices). Political agreement between the Council and the Parliament over the MFF was eventually reached on 10 November 2020, with both institutions giving their consent on 16-17 December 2020. Regarding the EU Space Programme, the amount allocated was left unchanged from the Michel proposal, which translated to €14.8 billion in current prices.

On 16 December 2020, a political agreement was reached between the Council and the Parliament over the whole space programme. The agreed text was subsequently finalised and subjected to legal-linguistic revisions. On 19 April 2021 the Council adopted the final text using a written procedure. The ITRE committee voted through the final text on 26 April, which was endorsed by the plenary on 27 April. The final act was signed on 28 April 2021 and entered into force on 12 May 2021 as Regulation (EU) 2021/695. It applies retroactively from 1 January 2021.

On 7 October 2023, the United Kingdom association to Copernicus was finalised. On 8 November 2023, an arrangement was signed between the Commission and the National Commission on Space Activities of Argentina.

 On 23 January 2024, Commissioner Thierry Breton disclosed his views on the design of the next EU space programme.

The Commission is expected to publish the mid-term evaluation of the programme during the second quarter of 2024. 


Further reading:

Author: Clement Evroux, Members' Research Service,

As of 20/06/2024.