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Space and the Future of Europe as a Global Actor: EO as a Key Security Aspect


Earth Observation (EO) data has become a strategic asset for the European Union. It is a backbone of the European Union external projection capabilities, enabling the monitoring of maritime, land and atmospheric environments, and climate change projections. It is also instrumental in conducting two non-scientific missions, providing emergency management and security services. The economic benefits provided by Copernicus have been estimated to 13.5 billion euro in less than ten years. However, new technologies and data management capabilities may hinder the benefits it provides to European service companies: most Copernicus data are exploited by non-European industries, able to leverage most of the benefits thanks to a robust data storage and analysis infrastructure. Increased economic and security benefits could be extracted from Copernicus data thanks to technological and policy solutions. The technological solution would consist in a European Cloud infrastructure providing storage and analytical capacities to European small and medium enterprises. The policy solution should push for better space data regulation, to guarantee their integrity and use, especially for security services. This paper explores the emerging need of a European space and digital security posture, able to ensure continuity and growth of EU space-based capabilities. While European Space Agency (ESA) EO programmes are growing, the new European Commission DG “Industry, Defence and Space” shall play a key role to reinforce this framework.

This study has been prepared by the the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and the Fondation pour la recherche stratégique (FRS) and has been supported by a grant from the European Space Agency.