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EU space industrial policy - EUR-Lex

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EU space industrial policy

At the dawn of the new millennium, Europe needs to establish a comprehensive European Space Policy in order to take advantage of the economic and strategic benefits of space for its citizens. This document from the European Commission is a major step towards defining the European Space Policy.


Communication from the Commission of 28 February 2013: EU Space industrial policy: Releasing the potential for economic growth in the space sector.[COM(2013)108 final - not published in the Official Journal]


Many of the systems and services that are today essential for Europeans' well-being and security depend directly or indirectly on space. They rely on space technologies when using their mobile phones, making financial transactions, taking a plane, watching the weather forecast or looking for the nearest restaurant using car navigation system. Space has become part of their daily lives. The Commission therefore proposes a new space policy to meet the challenges of today's world.

Europe's space industry is a driver for growth and innovation and a highly strategic sector, helping citizens face both societal challenges and create innovative technologies and services.

Commercial and innovation challenges:

  • Across the world, the space industry is highly subsidized through institutional programmes which translate into financing of research and development (R&D) programmes and purchasing of space products and services. Total European R&D is roughly estimated to account for 10% of unconsolidated sales turnover of the EU space sector. In an international context, the funding of European R&D is relatively small. The European institutional market is relatively small - in 2009, the US budget was almost 10 times higher than the European budget - and very fragmented, due to the diversity of public stakeholders and their different and not always coordinated industrial policies.
  • The satellite communications (SatCom) industry is instrumental in sustaining the entire European space industry. This segment's sales account for more than 60% of the European space manufacturing industry over the last ten years. Although Europe can count on a world-class SatCom industry, this sector faces not only increasing global competition but also technical and political challenges due to the scarcity of the radio spectrum.
  • Europe needs to position itself in the emerging markets for navigation (SatNav) and Earth observation applications (SatEO), services and products. These service industries have a high potential for growth and job creation. However, the development of the European satellite-based services industry is currently challenged by the existing regulatory framework and insufficient support to start-up companies which are at the heart of services and applications development.

To address these challenges, Europe should achieve technological non-dependence, security of supply and maintain independent access to space.

The new space communication identifies the main challenges the European space industry faces and proposes a series of measures to help it become more competitive at global level.

A press release summarises the key points of the communication.


Communication from the Commission of 26 April 2007 on the European Space Policy [COM(2007) 212 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 21.01.2014