What you should know about the next
ESA Council at Ministerial level
The next ESA Council at Ministerial Level will take place soon, at the end of this month, in Paris. What is decided in this meeting? And why is it important? In this article, we will answer these and many more questions.
What is the ESA Council at Ministerial level?
Every three years, the ministers responsible for the space sector from each ESA Member State gather to discuss and approve the programs and funding which will determine the priorities of the European space sector in the next three to five years. This meeting, called ESA Council at Ministerial level (CM22), will take place this year on the 22nd and 23rd of November, in Paris.
What is the importance of the Council at Ministerial level this year?
The 2022 Council at Ministerial Level is especially important. In these uncertain times, intensified by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ESA Member States – together with the Associated and Cooperating States – should join forces to strengthen the sector and ensure European citizens will continue to benefit from Space’s potential. Space technologies allow us to monitor and discover solutions to climate change, besides guaranteeing safe communication and quick and resilient responses to crisis situations, among innumerable other benefits.
In addition, the European space sector has been progressively adapting to a new global context: international competition is ever more fierce and there is a paradigm shift with the introduction of New Space, increasing the entrance of private agents.
What are the goals for the following years?
These changes propel the sector towards the future – it has always been so. Space missions give rise to scientific discoveries and stimulate technological advances. If Europe invests in the future, it will undoubtedly gather the fruits of that commitment: not only will it take advantage of the entire European space sector’s potential but it will also attract and retain emerging talents. The direction is clear and it is expressed in ESA’s Agenda 2025 and the Matosinhos Manifesto which called on ESA to enact the measures outlined in the Agenda: make Europe a world leader in space exploration.
How do the Member States contribute?
All Member States contribute to reaching the previously mentioned goals. ESA’s purpose is shared by all. The 22 Member States fund the space science programs as well as the ESA’s general budget which allows for the development and launch of a variety of missions. The Member’s contributions are calculated according to the GDP value of each country.
Additionally, the Member States subscribe to the ESA’s optional programmes they believe meet their objectives. This contribution may be divided between one or more of the following programmes:
- Technology, Engineering and Quality: The ESA programme responsible for long-term technological development. It also promotes research and the development of infrastructures such as laboratories and specialist sections within the context of space. Read more.
- Human and Robotic Exploration: The future of humanity is in space – from the low Earth orbit (LEO) to Mars, without forgetting the Moon. The goal is to ensure humans know those destinations and develop the necessary technology to visit them. The sustainability of space activities is the key to this ambition. Read more.
- Space Transportation: This programme aims to guarantee Europeans have safe and independent access to Space. This is achieved by consolidating and protecting the infrastructures which allow visits to Space, in response to institutional and commercial needs. Read more.
- Earth Observation Programmes: The images of our planet captured by satellites have many purposes and benefits. They have become, for example, a powerful tool in the study of climate change. Read more.
- Navigation: Satellite navigation systems are essential to our day-to-day through services like Galileo, the European equivalent of the American GPS system, and EGNOS. At the same time, they allow the exploration of new navigation technologies which may assist in scientific development. Read more.
- Science: At the forefront of innovation, ESA’s scientific programmes are fundamental to the sector’s development, inspiring generations and stimulating information and communication exchange. Read more.
- Telecommunications and Integrated Applications: Did you know satellite communications are responsible for two thirds of the space industry’s revenue? They are the engine of this sector, and their applications are present in our day-to-day lives. Read more.
- Operations: Controlling spacecrafts in orbit, managing the global tracking network, in addition to building on Earth the systems supporting the space missions: these are the responsibilities of ESA’s Operations teams, which include the Space Safety programme. Read more.
- Scale Up: Commercialisation opportunities in European Space are one of ESA’s vital elements in the coming years. Read more.
How did Portugal contribute in the last Council at Ministerial Level, Space 19+?
Portugal played a decisive role in the last Ministerial Council, in 2019, which took place in Seville, by assuming the co-presidency of the meeting together with France. At the time, Portugal committed to a new level of involvement with ESA by significantly raising its subscription of ESA’s optional programmes, a decision which brought vital opportunities for development in the national industrial and scientific landscape. In total, Portugal assumed a financial commitment of 102.7 million euros over the course of three years, compared to the 73,69 million euros subscribed during 2016-2019.
Recently, in Matosinhos, Portugal organised and presided ESA’s Intermediate Ministerial Meeting, which mandated ESA’s executive leadership to advance with Agenda 2025’s strategic goals, as articulated in the Matosinhos Manifesto.