Council adopts plans for EU space programme and new Prague-based agency

EPA-EFE/FOCKE STRANGMANN

Council adopts plans for EU space programme and new Prague-based agency


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The European Council has approved the basic details of the bloc’s 2021-2027 space programme but has not determined its budget despite the legislative package including projects aimed at building a new EU Agency that would mirror the US’ NASA and be based in the Czech capital, Prague, Czech Republic.

Initially tabled by the European Commission, the space programme would have an initial budget of €16 billion over the course of seven years. This amount could, however, be amended once the deliberations in the European Council are finished.

The budget will cover three separate areas of satellite navigation, earth observation, and security.

This decision is connected with the EU’s budget talks, which are not expected to end before the start of the new year, as the bloc’s members have yet to agree on the overall cost of key parts of the programme’s budget.

In May, the Commission insisted that the EU Council must reach a unanimous agreement on the new budget before the EU summit in Sibiu, Romania, on May 9, 2019. But in a new communiqué to the Council on December 18, the Commission softened its tone, calling for “maximum progress” by that date but putting off a conclusive agreement until October.

The Commission’s ambitious plan to boost spending at the expense of cohesion and agricultural fund for the poorer members of the EU has angered some countries in the bloc.

The €5.8 billion allocated for earth observation is part of the Copernicus project, while the satellite navigation budget is divided into €8.25 billion for the Galileo system, and €1.45 billion for the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service.

The €500 million allocated for security is split equally between the space and situational awareness programme, which tracks asteroids and space junk, and Govsatcom, which provides secure communications for the public sector.

All five projects are jointly operated with the European Space Agency, which in 2018 had a €5.8 billion budget.

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