The European Commission has proposed spending €16 billion on the EU’s space programme from 2021 to 2027. The proposal, released on Wednesday, emphasises spending on satellite navigation technology.
The largest portion of the next long-term budget – €9.7 billion – would go to developing and maintaining the European Union’s satellite navigation systems, Galileo, an alternative to the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS), and EGNOS, designed to improve the performance of global navigation systems.
Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation programme, would receive €5.8 billion in order to support border and maritime security, environmental monitoring and emergency management services for natural disasters and humanitarian crises. The project currently has seven satellites in orbit, with 25 more in development.
The remaining €500 million would support the development of new technologies to improve the security of satellite communications and minimise threats posed by asteroids and comets.
Industry Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, said space activities play an important role in the EU’s economy, society and security.
“Today we are putting our ambition and vision into a concrete programme so that Europe can remain a global leader in space and is better equipped to answer the profound changes undergoing in the space sector,” she said in a statement.
Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič also noted the importance of the space industry to the European economy. “Over 10% of the EU’s GDP is already dependent on space-related services and major investments by the EU have enabled progress that no member state could have achieved on its own,” he said. “But we need to up our game.”
Bieńkowska said that in addition to maintaining and upgrading current infrastructure for Galileo and Copernicus, the Commission seeks to foster innovation in the space industry, support start-ups, improve European security and increase the use of space data.
“Space data can help our industries lead on the Internet of Things and automated driving, and help us more accurately monitor greenhouse gas emissions to make our climate action more effective than ever before,” Šefčovič explained.
The proposed budget is around €5 billion higher than the EU’s current long-term budget, which covers the years 2014 to 2020. Bieńkowska said the current figures do not include any contributions from the United Kingdom, reports BBC News.
The UK has said it wants to remain in the EU’s space programmes after it leaves the EU next year and is prepared to pay to do so. If Britain ends up staying in the programmes and contributes the same percentage as when it leaves the EU, it could increase the budget by over a billion euros, according to BBC News.
The proposal will now go to the European Parliament and member states for approval. The Commission said it hopes the next long-term budget will be agreed in 2019 to ensure “a seamless transition” from the current one, but negotiations can last a year or more. Talks to agree the EU’s current long-term budget, for example, lasted over 18 months and delayed investment in new programmes.