Portugal contribution to ESA reaches €115 millions

The Portuguese contribution for the next ESA budget reaches €115 millions, boosting the national position in the European space sector
and supporting the reinforcement of scientific, technological and business activities in this area. The overall budget accounts for €16,9 billion,
with an increase of 17%, reaching a new record.

The Ministerial Council of the European Space Agency (ESA), which took place in Paris, ended this Wednesday, 23 November, with Portugal reinforcing its investment in the organisation’s programmes by subscribing a total of €115 million. For two days, the 22 Member States discussed and approved the strategic lines and programmes that will be the ESA’s action matrix in the coming years. In the end, Member States agreed on a budget of €16.9 billion, an increase of 17% compared to the last ministerial in 2019.

By taking on ESA’s largest-ever financial package, Member States confirm the relevance of Space as a strategic pillar in building European resilience. The agreement also demonstrates to Europe and the world the vitality of ESA Member States and the importance that the space sector has today at the economic level.

The ESA Ministerial Council 2022 (CMIN22) also recognised that Space is an essential tool for responding to climate change, natural disasters and land management, for example. Furthermore, the importance of international collaboration for the management of outer space as a common good and the need to accelerate the use of Space in its various dimensions in Europe is also evident.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES), Elvira Fortunato, led the Portuguese delegation to the CMIN22, accompanied by the president of the Portuguese Space Agency, Ricardo Conde, and the president of ANACOM, the National Communications Authority, João Cadete de Matos.

Since 2016, Portugal has been increasing its contribution to ESA, the primary public policy tool for government support to the space sector. At the Ministerial Council, which motto was “Accelerating the use of space in Europe”, Portugal reached its highest ever contribution, investing €115M in ESA programmes, thus highlighting their importance for the development of industry and national R&D centres.

“The increase in the Portuguese subscription allows us to strengthen the national participation in the programmes carried out by ESA, in line with the objectives of the National Strategy for Space”, said the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, stressing the importance of the commitment made by Portugal in the ESA Ministerial Council.

By reinforcing its subscription, Portugal intends to accelerate the implementation of the objectives of the National Strategy for Space, Portugal 2030, in the context of international cooperation. Among the main objectives is the development of the telecommunications sector with quantum technologies; enhancing the position of Portugal in the Atlantic, namely through the projects to be implemented in the Azores; and committing to a sustainable Earth and Space through Earth Observation and Space Safety programmes, in alignment with the policies of all Member States for a circular space economy and “zero space debris” policy.

Ricardo Conde, President of the Portuguese Space Agency, highlights the Portuguese investment in the Space Safety and Earth Observation programmes, totalling €10.4 and €10.1 million, respectively: “It is the realisation of what we have been advocating: the need for sustainable space for a sustainable planet. We will support, encourage and invest in programmes, projects and missions aiming at the sustainability of the planet and that guarantee that there are no future barriers to space exploration.” A segment in which Portugal will also be focusing, namely, adds Ricardo Conde, “through investment in the return and access point to Space on the island of Santa Maria, in the Azores, maximising the geographic potential for the development of the space sector”.

These various dimensions of the programmes will set the pace for space sector activities in Portugal in the coming years. And the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education recalls that these will be “complemented by the national effort to support the sector, through the Recovery and Resilience Plan, in a clear ambition to make Portugal a space nation by the end of the decade.”

Portuguese subscription to ESA programmes at CM22

Member States invest in knowledge and Space exploration

On the same day that ESA announced a new class of astronauts, the Member States agreed on a total budget of 16,9 billion euros, giving the Scientific and Space Transportation programmes the largest financial envelopes, reaching €3.1 billion and €2.8 billion, respectively. In addition, the Human and Robotic Exploration programme will receive an investment of €2.7 billion.

With this level of subscriptions, Member States confirm that Europe’s independence in access to Space is crucial to ensure that Europeans benefit from space data and technologies, including climate change monitoring and mitigation, secure communications and navigation under European control, and rapid and resilient responses to crises.

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said in a statement that Member States had shown “they know how to invest wisely” in an industry that creates jobs and ensures Europe’s prosperity. “Through this investment, we are building a Europe whose space agenda mirrors its political and economic strength. We are driving Space in Europe, ushering in a new era of ambition, determination, strength and pride,” he said.

Author
Portugal Space
Date
23 of November, 2022