Public Release: 

First 'Space Council' to set course towards a European Space Programme

European Space Agency

Ministers in charge of space affairs and those responsible for the internal market, industry and research meet in Brussels on Thursday 25 November for the first 'Space Council', a joint and concomitant meeting of the ESA Council at ministerial level and the EU Competitiveness Council.

At the meeting, the European Commission and ESA Executive will be represented by Vice-President Mr. Günther Verheugen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, in charge of competitiveness and space matters, and Mr. Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General.

These 'Space Council' meetings have been set up for the purpose of coordinating and facilitating cooperative activities between the European Community and ESA through their Framework Agreement which was adopted in 2003 and entered into force in May this year.

The Framework Agreement has two main aims. The first is the coherent and progressive development of an overall European space policy, which will specifically seek to link demand for services and applications using space systems in support of EU policies with the supply through ESA of space systems and infrastructures necessary to meet that demand.

The second aim of the Agreement is to establish a common basis and appropriate practical arrangements for efficient and mutually beneficial cooperation between ESA and the European Community, fully respecting the institutional and operational frameworks of each institution, to facilitate the setting up of joint initiatives and to provide a stable framework for ESA-EC cooperation to benefit all European citizens.

Over the last three years, the EU and ESA have worked together to outline a European space policy that identifies and prioritises objectives for space. The European space programme, expected to be endorsed by a Space Council session at the end of 2005, will constitute a common platform including all activities and measures to be undertaken by the EC, ESA and other stakeholders in order to achieve the objectives set by the European space policy.

The European space programme will be drawn up in the light of the recommendations set out in the White Paper on Space (*) with a view to being ready for implementation by the beginning of 2007.

The outcome of the first Space Council meeting will be presented at a press conference taking place at the Justus Lipsius Building in Brussels between 20:15 and 20:45 hrs on Thursday 25 November. Media representatives wishing to attend are kindly requested to complete the attached accreditation form and return it by fax.

(*) The White Paper on Space is an action plan adopted by the European Commission in November 2003 for implementing an enlarged European space policy. Drafted in cooperation with ESA, the White Paper includes proposals for joint ESA-EC initiatives and takes the Framework Agreement as its basis for implementation.


For further information:

Franco Bonacina
ESA Spokesman
Tel. 33-1-53-69-7155
Fax: 33-1-53-69-7690

Magdalena Martinez-Almeida
EU Press Officer for Transport, Telecoms and Energy Council, and Competitiveness Council
Tel. 32-2-285-6219

This historic event marks the first step towards the development and definition of an overall European space policy and its implementation programme. A progress report on the basis of a position paper and an exchange of views will be the core of the Council's agenda. The meeting will be chaired jointly by Mrs Edelgard Buhlman, German Minister for Education and Research and current chair of the ESA Council at ministerial level, and by Mr Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst, Dutch Minister for Economic Affairs and current chair of the EU Competitiveness Council.

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