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European Union Satellite Centre

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European Union Satellite Centre

The European Union Satellite Centre has the task of analysing satellite imagery. The information provided is essential to European decision-making in the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy.


Council Joint Action 2001/555/CFSP of 20 July 2001 on the establishment of a European Union Satellite Centre [See amending act(s)].


This Joint Action creates the European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC). The EUSC is specialised in satellite and aerial imagery. It has its headquarters at Torrejón de Ardoz, in Spain. It is a key institution for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the only entity to intervene in the field of space.

The Joint Action defines the mission, structure and functioning of the EUSC.


The EUSC is tasked with the production and use of information resulting from the analysis of satellite and aerial imagery. The information provided is used to support European Union (EU) decision-making in the field of CFSP, and more specifically in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).

As an example, the EUSC offers considerable support to EU operational forces deployed under the CFSP, and to humanitarian aid and peacekeeping missions. It is particularly active in prevention, by facilitating early warning of risks of armed conflict or humanitarian crises, and monitors crisis situations.


The EUSC has a Board composed of representatives from each Member State and a Commission representative. The Board is chaired by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Board approves the annual programme of work and the Centre’s budget. It can also set up working groups on certain specific issues.

The Board appoints the Director of the EUSC for a term of three years, which may be extended by two years. The Director is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Centre and the execution of its mission. The Director also prepares the work of the Board.

All EUSC staff are contract personnel. However, experts from Member States or the Commission may be seconded to the Centre for a maximum period of one year.


The main beneficiary of the work of the Satellite Centre is the Council of the EU. It therefore has priority over other applicants.

In addition, the European Commission, the Member States and international organisations (such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations may also benefit from EUSC data. In that case they need to address a request to the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. If the capacity of the Centre allows, the High Representative then directs the Centre accordingly.

Association of Third States

Some Third States may benefit from EUSC data by addressing requests to the High Representative. Such Third States are:

  • non-EU European NATO Members;
  • States which are candidates for accession to the EU.

In addition, the Joint Action has an Annex containing provisions on the association of Third States with the Satellite Centre’s activities.

The position of Denmark

In accordance with the Protocol on the position of Denmark annexed to the Treaty on EU and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, Denmark does not participate in the elaboration and implementation of EU decisions and actions which have defence implications.

Denmark can therefore participate in the work of the EUSC and address requests under the same conditions as other Member States, except where work or requests have defence implications.


The EU Satellite Centre has its origins in the former Western European Union (WEU). The WEU was created in 1971 and dissolved on 30 June 2011. It included a section specialised in satellite imagery. The latter section has been incorporated into the EU Satellite Centre.

Furthermore, the Satellite Centre has been entrusted with certain administrative duties related to the dissolution of the WEU, in particular with regard to personnel.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Joint Action 2001/555/CFSP



OJ L 200 of 25.7.2001

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Decision 2011/297/CFSP



OJ L 136 of 24.5.2011

See also

Last updated: 05.08.2011