Space contribution to public safety announced by the Commission on its new Space programme 

On 16 December 2020, the Parliament and EU Member States reached a political agreement on the EU space programme, deciding that the EU space programme would bring all existing and new space activities under the umbrella of a single programme.  

With a €13.202 billion budget agreed by the co-legislators, the EU space programme is expected to develop further the current European flagship programmes — Copernicus for earth observation and Galileo and EGNOS for satellite navigation.  

These two flagships of the EU's space policy _ Copernicus and Galileo — represent a great contribute to the public safety sector, namely, to enhance critical communications and situational awareness but also to respond quickly in times of natural disaster and crisis.

The EU space programme will also enable the launching of European initiatives in satellite communication (GOVSATCOM) and on Space Situational Awareness (SSA) to protect space infrastructure from space debris. 

On 9 December 2020, Commissioner Thierry Breton described the space programme as a “fast changing landscape”, outlining the EU’s next steps in this arena. 

“Innovation cycles are shortening. New private actors are emerging — bringing with them new concepts, new business models and disruptive technologies”, wrote Breton on his Linkedin profile. 

The Internal Market Commissioner said that secure connectivity and quantum encryption are among the expected outputs from space applications. 

“Low earth orbit constellations will allow Europe to benefit from space-based high-speed connectivity everywhere, complementary to other technologies (fibre and 5G). “It would also project Europe into the quantum encryption area, certainly the most important technological breakthrough to come”, added Breton. 

Developing space traffic management is also an ambition defended by the Commission. “Thanks to the Space Surveillance and Tracking framework, which protects already 148 European satellites from collision, we have strong building blocks to be ambitious”, said Breton. 

Commission brings the latest data on disaster risk with new report 

The European Commission's humanitarian aid office — DG ECHO — published the 2020 edition of the report “Overview of Natural and Man-made Disaster Risks the European Union May Face“. The publication presents the latest available evidence on disaster risks, such as floods, wildfires or diseases, that threaten the EU, drawing on the national risk assessments developed by the EU Member States and on the Commission’s cross-sectoral policy and scientific work.  

During our recent PSCE Conference, we welcomed a speaker from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), who made a presentation of the World Disasters Report 2020 comparing it to the Commission’s own report. The IFRC’s speaker agreed that the EU’s work, alike to that of the IFRC, presents a guiding tool for first responders, civil protection authorities and society as a whole. 

Recently, the Commission launched a knowledge centre to reverse biodiversity loss and protect Europe’s ecosystems — the Knowledge Centre for Earth Observation. This initiative, in line with the European Green Deal, will monitor through satellite imagery the Earth’s atmosphere and it will also help to assess potential natural disasters in the EU territory. 

As the threats posed by natural disasters, such as floods and wildfires, are becoming increasing realities, PSCE welcomes the work developed by the European Commission and the IFRC in ensuring preparedness and timely response during critical situations.  

Successful PSCE Conference features EU cybersecurity, climate emergency, AI and space applications  

We are happy to announce that the PSCE Conference, on 19 and 20 January, was an unparalleled success, welcoming nearly 500 registrants within the public safety sector. During our virtual event, we gave the floor to 20 speakers who have addressed topics ranging from artificial intelligence for the public preparedness and disaster response (PPDR) sector, cybersecurity, climate emergency and new space applications.  

Our honourable speakers represented high-level institutions such as the European Commission (DG CONNECT), the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the European Parliament. 

Public safety organisations, Industry, Researchers presented their perspectives and shared their expertise. This led to a significant level of engagement of the audience. Overall, we thrived to provide a balanced debate focusing on the most trending policies, technology and activities surrounding the public safety sector. We made it clear that the work developed by first responders and for first responders is paramount for a secure and resilient society! 

We have uploaded our speakers’ presentations on the PSCE website and a report on the conference will shortly follow. 

Portuguese Presidency to strengthen Civil Protection and Disaster Management in the EU

The Portuguese Presidency of the EU Council kicked-off on January 5, when the Council's President Charles Michel visited the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa.

On its programme, the Portuguese Presidency highlights work ahead in the fields of disaster management and civil protection.

"The Presidency will work to establish an ambitious and comprehensive EU disaster management system that, with a focus on solidarity and integration, will foster greater collective resilience in responding to emergencies, including the repatriation of citizens stranded in third countries. We will prioritise strengthening the Union Civil Protection Mechanism as well as establishing strategic reserves of essential supplies and supporting specific military capabilities to enable a more rapid, flexible and cross-cutting disaster response," reads the programme.

"Priority will be given to strengthening joint preparedness and to the additional mechanisms for Member States’ solidarity, increasing the capacity of rescEU (European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations) and enriching the European Civil Protection Knowledge Network. The Presidency will foster local consular cooperation between Member States and EU delegations with a view to crisis preparedness."