EU Study Suggests Steps to Improve EU Space Market Uptake

According to a new study commissioned by the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee, much still remains to be done to reap the ultimate benefits from the EU’s space policy. Along with outlining the existing EU space policy and the current challenges, the study also suggests several steps that the EU institutions and the EU Member States could take to advance the uptake of the EU space market.

The EU space policy, launched in 2007, is still very young, especially in comparison to competitors such as the US. Current EU efforts in the space sector are centred on the two EU satellite navigation programmes Galileo and Copernicus. The Galileo programme provides highly accurate global positioning services, whereas the Copernicus programme helps monitor the Earth and provides a variety of data sets, useful in a range of industries.

The new study explains the rationales behind EU interventions in the space sector. Notably, the EU recognises the advantages that can be gained by pulling together resources and expertise from the European Space Agency and Member States, as well as the benefits from the development of satellite-based services and products, which could help attain the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The European Commission has already been promoting the uptake of a market based on the use of space data by increasing the budget dedicated to space research, taking legislative actions to create an incentive for a larger use of space satellite data by public and private users, as well as carrying out activities to raise awareness about the Galileo and Copernicus programmes. However, as the study advises, more needs to be done to tackle the barrier currently constraining market development.

According to the study, one of the most important steps to accelerate the space market uptake is the adoption of a long term explicit and common EU space industrial policy, which would set clear objectives and targets. Additionally, existing EU regulations could be reviewed to see where the use of Copernicus data or Galileo services could bring added value. Several other steps, such as improving data accessibility, increasing support for R&D and business development programmes, and harmonising procurement rules, could also be taken to ensure that EU efforts in the space sector bring maximum benefit.


The study on the Space Market Uptake in Europe is available here.

Nordic Countries Issue White Paper in Support of the Use of 700-MHz Band for Emergency Communications

The owners of the nation-wide public safety radio networks in Sweden, Norway and Finland have sent a jointly prepared White Paper to the Radio Spectrum Committee, emphasizing the importance of dedicated frequencies in the 700 MHz band for emergency communications. The Radio Spectrum Committee assists the European Commission and works to ensure harmonised conditions across Europe for the availability and efficient use of radio spectrum.

Currently, the public safety radio networks in the Nordic countries use the TETRA technology for emergency communications. TETRA operates in the 380-400 MHz range and is considered good for voice communication. However, it fails to meet the needs of PPDR organisations today, in the face of increasingly more complex challenges.

The 700 MHz band has so far been allocated for broadcasting purposes, but the frequencies will eventually be allocated for broadband communications in the Nordic countries. In their White Paper, the public safety radio networks in Sweden, Norway and Finland advise allocating part of the 700 MHz band for use by PPDR organisations. Without dedicated frequencies, the next generation emergency communications systems will have to be built exclusively on commercial operators’ networks.

More information is available here.

The Netherlands EU Presidency Prioritises Tackling the Migration Crisis

On 1st January, the Netherlands assumed presidency of the European Council for a six month term. In its work programme, the Netherlands has pinpointed the key areas it will focus on during its Presidency. These are: (1) migration and international security; (2) sound finances and a robust Eurozone, (3) Europe as an innovator and job creator, and (4) forward-looking climate change and energy policy. Interlinked with these focus areas are the three basic principles that will guide the Netherlands Presidency – a Union that focuses on the essentials, a Union that creates innovative growth and jobs, and a Union that connects with society.

Dealing with the current migration crisis is a prime topic mentioned throughout the work programme of the Netherlands Presidency. The threats on the external borders are linked with greater risks inside the EU. It will be necessary to find an appropriate response. The Netherlands suggests that creating stronger links between internal and external policy could be a starting point. A priority of the Netherlands Presidency will be to more effectively control Europe’s external borders, improve the initial reception of refugees in Europe and in the region, and share the burden fairly amongst EU Member States.

To enhance the security of the European Union, the Netherlands will seek to accelerate the elaboration and implementation of the migration package and the early completion of the strategic review of the EU Foreign and Security Policy. The Netherlands will make sure that the themes of security and defence are firmly embedded in future European defence cooperation and related legislation. An over-arching aim of the Netherlands Presidency will be to contribute to a safer, more just and future-proof world.

The Netherlands Presidency work programme is available here.

First EU-wide Legislation on Cybersecurity Agreed

On 8th December 2015 the three key European Union institutions – the European Commission, European Parliament, and the Council – agreed on the first EU-wide legislation on cybersecurity. The Directive on Network and Information Society aims to improve cybersecurity capabilities in Member States and to enhance cooperation between Member States on cybersecurity-related issues. The new legislation will require operators to introduce increased security measures to protect their activities. This will, in particular, apply to operators of essential services, including, for example, those active in the energy, transport, banking, and healthcare sectors.

After the agreement of all three institutions, they will each have to approve it formally. The new legislation will then be published in the EU Official Journal. Afterwards, Member States will be given a period of 21 months to implement the Directive into their national legislative frameworks and six more months to identify operators of essential services.

Press release from the European Commission is available here.

General Data Protection Regulation Adopted

The controversial General Data Protection Regulation was adopted by the European institutions on 15th December 2015. The aim of the new Regulation is to make Europe ready for the digital age and to enable people to better control their personal data.

More specifically, the Regulation provides individuals with the right to easier access to their own data, the right to data portability, the right to be forgotten, as well as the right to know when their data has been hacked. For businesses, the new Regulation will help cut red tape, increase consumer trust, and make better use of the opportunities provided by the Digital Single Market.

The Regulation also gives greater powers to national law enforcement authorities, which, under the Regulation, will be able to exchange the information necessary for investigations more efficiently and effectively. This will lead to improved cooperation in the fight against terrorism and other serious crimes in Europe.

Following political agreement reached in trilogue, the final texts will be formally adopted by the EP and Council at the beginning of 2016. The new rules will become applicable two years thereafter.

Press release from the European Commission is available here.