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Thank you Mr. Chairman,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro,* Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
Allow me first to thank you, for chairing this session, and Director Di Pippo and the Outer Space Office, for the excellent preparatory works and organization of the UNISPACE +50 High-level Segment of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) session.
Space is a driver for economic growth and innovations for the benefits of all people. Space activities and technologies contribute to tackling major challenges such as climate change, disaster management, food security, transport development, and the protection of the environment and of scarce resources. They also boost the competitiveness of industry well beyond the space sector, thereby contributing to job creation and socio-economic development in almost all economic areas worldwide. Space technologies also accelerate the research and technology development. Space science and technology have also increasing role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
In this regard the EU and its Member States strongly support the work of COPUOS. We underline the importance of the recent UNISPACE +50 High-level Segment, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of UNISPACE, and discussed the achievements and challenges in space.
We appreciate that UNISPACE+50 Segment endorsed the draft resolution “Fiftieth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space: space as a driver of sustainable development” out of which we would like to explicitly emphasize some elements:
- The unique opportunity in strengthening the roles and activities of the COPUOS, its subsidiary bodies and the Office for Outer Space Affairs,
- the need to ensure the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, in particular, in addressing the significant challenge posed by space debris and
- conviction that ensuring of the outer space as an operationally stable and safe environment would be consistent with the long-standing principles contained in the Outer Space Treaty. The EU and its Member States will actively participate in developing a "Space 2030" agenda.
In the European Union, we have developed strong and unique space capacities and industry, allowing us to take part in major space endeavours. The EU, its Member States and ESA together have the second largest budget for space in the world. Our technology and expertise make the EU a heavyweight on global space markets. The aim of the EU and its Member States is to be an autonomous and cooperative space power.
Both the EU space flagship programmes Galileo / EGNOS and Copernicus have made impressive progress recently. Twenty-two Galileo satellites have already been launched and four more are to come this year. Galileo shows our innovative, autonomous and cooperative approach to space. It is a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control.
When the Galileo satellite navigation system is fully operational in 2020, it will allow improved services ranging from inter alia more precise in-car navigation, effective road transport management, maritime transport management, search and rescue services, more secure banking transactions as well as reliable electricity supply, which all rely on satellite navigation and timing technologies. Galileo will provide new business opportunities in a wide variety of applications in many sectors of the economy worldwide.
The EU also funds the EGNOS programme, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, which supports numerous market segments, such as aviation, road, rail, maritime, surveying and mapping, location-based services and precision agriculture.
Copernicus is the long-term European Union Earth observation and monitoring programme. It is a user-driven programme of seven dedicated, EU-owned Earth observation satellites - the so-called Sentinels – and of the 6 Copernicus Services in the fields of atmosphere-, marine- and land-monitoring, climate change, emergency management and security. Copernicus data and services are available on a full, open and free-of-charge basis to users. Copernicus has probably the best rapid mapping system in the world. This means that in a matter of hours, we can produce accurate maps to assess the damage and plan for the rescue operations. In terms of emergency management, the EU is keen to mobilize Copernicus in support of all the people in need, as recently happened in the Caribbean with Hurricane Irma. We see it as our duty to help other countries in the moment of need.
Space technologies, infrastructure, services and data provide the tools needed to address societal challenges and big global concerns, such as climate change, migration, mobility, energy security and many others. Space research and innovation are an important part of the EU activities in the space domain, which is currently supported in the Horizon 2020 programme. To bring the benefits of space to the citizens and unleash the potential of space as a vector for growth, it is necessary to stimulate the integration of space into society and economy, foster competitiveness and ensure access to and use of space in a safe and secure environment. An important challenge and an opportunity is to carry out research and innovation actions for preparing applications and downstream services exploiting the opportunities of data and signals available through the Galileo and Copernicus systems. Horizon 2020 space will be a tool in support of the competitiveness of the European space sector in the global context. Accordingly, international cooperation will be mainstreamed in the work programme as far as possible.
Exploring is inherent to human nature. The natural next step, into space, is now made possible by technological advancement. We must make sure that this unique endeavour is the benefit of all.
Exploration is about science, but also education, economy and society. It provides a deep fascination, inspiration and pride, especially for a young generation. Exploring space triggers creativity and innovation by the very nature of its challenges. The International Space Station is a great example of a long-lasting international cooperation for peaceful purposes. Exploration needs to be open to partnerships between space-faring actors and newcomers. On a geopolitical level, exploring the solar system has the potential to enhance international and global diplomatic relations.
Space exploration must definitely be without borders, in order to serve as a major peaceful and positive international endeavour. It should build on a common high-level political ambition and on a rules-based and cooperative approach. In this respect, we would like to stress the key role of the European Space Agency in both robotic and human exploration as well as in fundamental space science.
It is evident that extreme space weather events may disrupt the operation of space assets and critical infrastructures on which our daily lives increasingly depend. At the same time, there seems to be a limited awareness of the risks of space weather events and a limited preparedness to cope with their effects.
As space weather has global interest, UNISPACE + 50 should consider how to cooperate with all actors with common interests in space weather. We would therefore support actions aimed at increasing the awareness of space weather events and their potential consequences with all stakeholders, such as authorities, operators, and also the public. We would also encourage authorities to categorize extreme space weather as a "natural hazard", and operators of space infrastructure and services to invest in increased resilience of their systems.
It would be desirable to define and adopt a multi-risk governance approach at regional or international level, to assess hidden vulnerabilities and interdependencies and to address cascading effects and multiple stakeholders and prepare strategic plans and support agreements.
The European Union plays a role of increasing importance for European space programmes and services. These services are often made available to the world community (e.g. Copernicus) for the benefit of all Nations.
The space arena is becoming more and more complex. It needs clear rules and a forum where dialog is possible to follow the evolutions with a consensual approach. We believe COPUOS and UNOOSA should continue to play a unique role in this context.
UNISPACE+50 offered a unique opportunity to underline that space assets and activities already contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the European Union reaffirms its commitment to continue being an active player in the development of space activities in this respect.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.