Europe needs ‘unshakeable unity’ against China and US in space – POLITICO

PARIS — Europe must strengthen its strategic autonomy in space to compete with China and the United States, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday.

Speaking as ministers from the 22 member countries of the European Space Agency meet in Paris to consolidate a record budget of 18.5 billion euros over three to five years depending on the programme, Le Maire said that the capitals had to pay for “autonomous access to space”. “

“We need a single Europe, a single European space policy and unwavering unity to deal with Chinese ambitions and American ambitions,” said Le Maire.

While Europe has its own satellite systems to monitor climate change and provide geolocation services, it does not have the capacity to send its astronauts into space or to offer commercial satellite communication services. , for example.

The summit, which stands next to the Eiffel Tower at the Grand Palais Éphémère, comes as NASA’s Artemis test flight circles the moon as part of a trial to return humans to the lunar surface this decade, and with the future of the international Gare space in doubt.

The two-day conference talks will cover funding for everything from research projects to weather satellites, such as Aeolus which can monitor global wind flow, as well as a mission to Mars and extra money for a secure communications satellite system proposed by the European Commission and targeted to rival Elon Musk’s Starlink.

But the haggling comes amid runaway inflation and a cost-of-living crisis that puts an emphasis on spending on public space.

“There is a price to pay for independence and we are ready to pay the price,” Le Maire said of his government’s intention to respond to new requests for funding from ESA, a non-governmental organisation. member of the EU but whose members overlap.

France is generally the European leader in aerospace, but at the last ESA summit in 2019, Germany overtook it as the main contributor to the budget.

Before the summit began on Tuesday, Le Maire and his German and Italian counterparts Robert Habeck and Adolfo Urso agreed to help fund Europe’s delayed Ariane 6 rocket system, as well as Vega C, which are launched from French Guiana.

The agreement avoids differences between the three countries on the best way to develop rocket technology, with fierce competition for commercial and government satellite launches and the end of cooperation with Russia’s Roscosmos due to the war in Ukraine. .

“This is a very good starting point for Europe… and for the space ambitions that we all want to share and pursue over the next few years,” Le Maire said.

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