Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations 1st/4th Committee: Joint Session on Outer Space

New York, 31/10/2019 - 21:01, UNIQUE ID: 191031_22
Statements on behalf of the EU

31 October 2019, New York - European Union Statement by Ms. Carine Claeys, Special Envoy for Space, Head of the Space Task Force, European External Action Service, 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 1st/4th Committee Joint Session on Outer Space

Mr. Chairman,


I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro* 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.

The EU and its Member States, together with the European Space Agency, have developed strong and unique space capabilities and industry in Europe. The EU currently has a large budget for space, most of which is dedicated to the European Global Navigation Satellite systems, Galileo and EGNOS, and the European Earth-observation system, Copernicus.

For the next budget period from 2021 to 2027 the European Commission has proposed a robust 16 billion EUR Space Programme to boost the EU space capabilities in the fields of navigation, Earth-observation, space situational awareness and governmental satellite communication.

The new EU Space Programme will also address global challenges, such as fighting climate change, a transition to a low-carbon economy, smart mobility and digital economy. It will support a European ‘New Space' approach with innovative start-ups, and increased European technological autonomy.  

Mr. Chairman,

The EU and its Member States continue to promote the preservation of a safe, secure and sustainable space environment as well as the peaceful use of outer space on an equitable and mutually acceptable basis. We regard outer space as a global common good, to be used for the benefit of all. We continue to stress the importance of transparency and confidence-building measures and the need to advocate responsible behaviour in outer space notably in the framework of the United Nations. As an example, in the new EU Space Programme, measures for space debris disposal and spacecraft disposal are to be implemented as way of taking charge of our own actions in this global challenge.

We underline the need to foster increased international cooperation, and to establish principles of responsible behaviour, while maintaining sustainability of space activities. Furthermore, we stress the need to strengthen commitments to avoid potentially harmful interference with the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, to facilitate equitable access to outer space.

The EU and its Member States remain strongly committed to the prevention of an arms race in outer space, which is essential for strengthening international security and stability and for safeguarding the long-term use of the space environment for peaceful purposes.  We are concerned about the continued development of all anti-satellite weapons and capabilities, including ground-based, and underline the importance of addressing such developments promptly and as part of international efforts to prevent an arms race in outer space.  We call on all States to refrain from destruction of space objects that would generate long-lived debris. 

The EU underlines that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and other applicable international space law as developed in the UN framework constitute the cornerstone of the global governance of outer space. As a responsible space actor, the EU is exploring the possibility for its accession to the relevant UN treaties on outer space.

We express our satisfaction that the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) adopted the preamble and 21 Guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. The adoption of the guidelines is a major achievement and a culmination of several years of work by COPUOS, which proved that multilateral space diplomacy and international cooperation can work and produce results. We are equally satisfied that agreement was reached on establishing a working group on the long-term sustainability of outer space activities and look forward to discussing how to implement these guidelines, as well as to consider other topics for potential development of further guidelines.

We believe that the most realistic near term prospect lies in agreeing on a voluntary instrument or voluntary norms. Such a voluntary instrument could establish standards of responsible behaviour across the full range of space activities and related challenges. Topics could include the mitigation and remediation of space debris, which is partially caused by intentional anti-satellite weapon testing, and collision avoidance in order to promote security and safety in outer space in an integrated fashion.

Discussions, in particular within the UN framework, on a voluntary instrument or voluntary norms to govern increasing human activities in space should complement the COPUOS long-term sustainability Guidelines. Compliance with existing international law and with transparency and confidence-building measures, as developed in the UN framework, would have to be ensured.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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