Nowadays, the space technologies, data and services have become indispensable in our daily lives; the satellites sent into the orbit by the EU enable millions of people to communicate through new technologies. We can travel by land, sea and air and even develop ways to control the anthropogenic impact in our planet thanks to the space-based technologies. Therefore, the space sector represents a strategic interest for Europe, its citizens and industries.
In the last two decades, the EU has invested in this sector reaching a strong edge in space activities (Copernicus, Galileo, EGNOS); also the European space industry is one of the most competitive, including manufacturing and services, employs more than 231 000 professionals and generates a value added estimated at €53-62 billion [EU data, 2018]. However, there are many new challenges and actors across the world, that’s why the commission strategy turned into an integrated approach which will ensure an efficient investment continuity, development of the sector and reinforce Europe’s autonomy and leadership.
Late 2020, the Council and the European Parliament reached a political agreement on the Regulation establishing the next EU Space Programme for the period 2021-2027, the main objective is to simplify and streamline the existing EU legal framework on space policy and the rules for the governance of the EU Space Programme, which includes now the field of security. Precisely, the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) brings together all EU space activities in a single programme, it provides a coherent framework for investment by improving efficiency and it will also contribute to the deployment of new space-related services that will benefit EU citizens and businesses (user-oriented).
The main objectives of the strategy are:
- Deliver concrete benefits to European citizens and businesses;
- Promote a competitive and innovative European space sector;
- Increase the EU’s strategic autonomy;
- Strengthen the EU’s space leadership on the world stage.
The EUSPA will cover 4 main activities:
- Satellite navigation systems (budget: €9.7 billion)
- Galileo: Europe’s own global satellite navigation system
- EGNOS: The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service
- Earth observation (budget: €5.8 billion)
- New security components for a sustainable EU’s space activities and security (budget: €500 million)
- GOVSATCOM: The new Governmental Satellite Communication
- SSA: The Space Situational Awareness
Advantages for the ConnectEO community
Good news! this new programme will ensure investment in EU space activities, encourage scientific and technical progress and support the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the European space industry, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups and innovative businesses.
Moreover, the programme will support the user uptake and market development, the Earth Observation (EO) SMEs will be encouraged to improve their products and services, establish space innovation partnerships and subsequently develop their businesses into international markets. A business- and innovation-friendly initiatives, such as ConnectEO, will also be supported, giving the relevance in bringing together the space-based provides and user sectors (Agriculture, marine/maritime).
The European Earth observation data provider (Copernicus) represents a key tool and advantage for the European SMEs, which can create satellite-enabled products and services. Some examples from the ConnectEO target sectors marine/maritime and agriculture are:
Saving lives at sea: Copernicus supports the European Border and Coast Guard Agency’s missions in the Mediterranean, helping spot unsafe vessels and rescuing people.
Monitoring oil spills: The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) uses Copernicus data for oil spill and vessel monitoring
Agriculture: 80% of farmers using satellite navigation for precision farming are EGNOS users. And Copernicus data is used for crop monitoring and yield forecasting.
Regarding the market uptake, some examples:
Fishery: The Asimuth project helps fish and mussel farmers optimise their harvesting schedules to reduce losses from algal blooms by at least 12.5%.
Wine production: Terranis has developed an app which provides information in the weeks before harvest time so that wine makers can adjust cultivation methods.
So, let’s give a warm welcome to this new programme and seize on-going and upcoming opportunities in the space sector.
 Questions and Answers on the new EU Space Programme – https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/MEMO_18_4023
 EU budget: A €16 billion Space Programme to boost EU space leadership beyond 2020 – https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_18_4022
 Commission welcomes the political agreement on the European Space Programme – https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_2449
 EU space policy: Council of the European Union – https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/policies/eu-space-programme/