The EESC welcomes the determination of the new European Commission to enhance the Union's technological sovereignty, and stress the importance of the security sector in this respect. There is no security without technology, and Europe must master the technologies that are crucial for its security.
Action Plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries - Related Opinions
The EU’s geopolitical context has changed dramatically in the last decade. The situation in its neighbouring regions is unstable and it faces a complex and challenging environment in which new threats, such as hybrid and cyber-attacks, are emerging, and more conventional challenges are returning.
EU citizens and their political leaders agree that the EU should collectively take more responsibility for its security. In the joint declaration of 25 March 2017 in Rome, leaders of 27 Member States and the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission stated the Union will strengthen its common security and defence and foster a more competitive and integrated defence industry.
The EESC supports the EU in its efforts to remain a major independent space power and agrees with it acquiring financial resources commensurate with its ambitions.
The EESC also welcomes the importance attached to "space surveillance and tracking" and to the Govsatcom system, calls for close attention to be given to the project of extracting and retrieving natural resources outside the earth's orbit (space mining) and proposes an appropriate campaign, so that citizens realise the added value of European space activities, which are present in their daily lives.
The aeronautical industry is one of the EU's key high-tech sectors in the global market. The industry directly employs 500 000 people in high quality jobs (1 million adding indirect jobs) and consists of an ecosystem of large and small companies covering the entire spectrum of aeronautics. (Source: ASD Facts and Figures)
The EU aeronautical industry is a technological leader in its field and currently has a market share of about one third of the global market. The industry provides a positive contribution to the EU trade balance (EUR 46 billion in EU exports). (Source: ASD Facts and Figures)
This leadership should not be taken for granted since the industry faces many challenges.
The Commission's report highlights the key findings of the mid-term evaluation of the European Earth monitoring programme, Copernicus, three years into its implementation. The EESC welcomes the results achieved so far by the Copernicus programme and emphasises that when assessing the achievements of the programme, social and environmental aspects should be considered, in addition to the economic aspect.
The European defence policy was identified as a key political priority in President Juncker's political guidelines of July 2014. This should be also viewed in connection with the fact that after decades of peace and stability, the Union is facing increased instability and new emerging security threats. This changing security environment demonstrated in a clear way that only through joint efforts in investing in security development and cooperation at all levels can we deliver on the expectations of Union citizens and our partners. For Europe to take over more responsibility for its defence, it is crucial to improve competitiveness and enhance innovation across the Union defence industry.
President Juncker stressed in his 2016 State of the Union Speech the need for a Europe that protects, empowers and defends. Taking greater responsibility for their security means that Europeans must invest in the development of key defence capabilities to be able to deter, respond and protect themselves against external threats. The European Union must demonstrate that it can act as a provider of hard as well as soft security, addressing calls for greater solidarity in security and defence. The Bratislava roadmap, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have also recently underlined this priority.
The EESC welcomes the communication of the European Commission on a "Space Strategy for Europe" and endorses the proposed guidelines. The EESC encourages the Commission to continue on this path and to set its sights on even more ambitious horizons. The Committee emphasizes that space activities are nowadays part of everyday life of European citizens. It focuses on the crucial role of SMEs as well as on the education and public awareness raising as far as space activities are concerned.