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La dimensione spaziale della politica europea di sicurezza e difesa


Being able to monitor the areas of potential or effective crisis will play a major role within Europe's security and defence together with the ability to manage the enormous flow of data linked to the possible interventions for maintaining or re-establishing peace. In both cases, the need can only be met through the use of space systems. Apart from the WEU initiative to set up a centre for the digital imagery interpretation in Spain (now an Agency of the EU), Europe has not up to now agreed on a common space policy on defence and security (as opposed to what has happened with ESA for civilian purposes). However, the need to draw one up has now become compelling. Over and above the general reasons in favour of using space-based applications, in Europe's case there are additional political, military and industrial ones that are particular to its environment. Europe's long tradition of collaboration in civilian space activities has fostered a better attitude towards building a common space policy, even though there are still a few problems and some resistance from some of the countries. The increasing interest shown by European institutions, in particular in the GALILEO and GMES program and the closer links with ESA are further proof that a European aspect is now running parallel with the national one insofar as space policies are concerned. The defensive nature of the use of space is fertile ground for the establishment of a common policy since it is both directly complementary to the activity carried out by ESA for civilian purposes as well as limiting the implications linked to any hypothesis of giving Europe an operative military capacity. Therefore, there should be little resistance at an institutional level for new initiatives to support the CESDP (together with the centre for digital imagery interpretation) and to work alongside what has already been achieved in the transport sector (the Galileo navigation infrastructure) and in the security monitoring (GMES). Insofar the establishment of a common policy on space is essential to make a leap forward in terms of quality and move from a limited production of single satellites to a small chain of production for limited series. Naturally, today the industry tries to keep the cost of development and production by manufacturing the outer body in a sort of production chain as well as reducing the cost for launching by building standardised satellites. However, this is not enough since the number of European national satellites remains within a single digit figure as a yearly average, while on the other hand the US average is more than ten. Hence it is understandable that the European industry is trying to promote a European policy on space based on a resulting demand for dedicated satellites. Therefore there is a strong enough drive to establish a European initiative, although there are still a few obstacles that should first be removed. The most important is the permanent weakness of CESDP caused by the inability of European governments of tackling the issue of strengthening the European institutions. The second obstacle is a financial one, since Europe's governments are still striving to cut defence expenditure, notwithstanding what's been declared in principle. Lastly, the third obstacle is at an institutional level. There is a lack of a centralised body capable of developing and managing a European space capacity in the fields of defence and security, starting from the pooling of the existing national capacities. At the same time, there is also an increasing cognisance of the need to overcome such obstacles through a joint effort. With this in mind, what is needed is to increase awareness of the problem at a European level by adopting a strategy that helps to overcome these obstacles and to foster initiatives geared towards making the aim of achieving a common security space policy a feasible one.

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