European Space Agency’s ESA successful Ministerial Council meeting in Switzerland

Press release, 02.12.2016

The Ministers responsible for space affairs from ESA Member States came together on 1-2 December 2016 to make important decisions, namely on the strategy to ensure Europe reinforces its excellence in space science and technology; maximising the integration of space into European society and on fostering a competitive European space sector. The meeting in Lucerne, the first one on Swiss territory, was also the occasion for Switzerland and Luxembourg to pass on the Ministerial Presidency to Spain.

The President of the Confederation M. Johann N. Schneider-Ammann welcomed the participants of ESA’s Ministerial Council meeting for their 2-day meeting in Lucerne. The Ministers of the 22 Member States and the two associated States Slovenia and Canada came together, as is usual every 3-4 years, to agree on their respective financial commitments for the following years and consequently decide on ESA’s future. Decisions were taken for the start or the continuation of about 30 different programmes covering all domains of space activities.

Major decisions reached:

  • The continued European participation in the exploitation of the International Space Station ISS until 2024, together with the international partners such as the United States of America, Russia, Japan and Canada;
  • The further development of launcher technologies to prepare the evolution of Ariane 6 and Vega C which have been confirmed recently, and maintenance of corresponding infrastructure, assets and services to guarantee a continued autonomous European access to space;
  • Political support and funding for the second ExoMars mission, to be developed in cooperation with Russia and launched in 2020. It will use the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), in orbit around the planet since October 2016, as a data relay station between Mars and Earth;
  • The continuation of Earth Observation programmes that provide the basis for scientific missions, as well as for future operational missions in the domains of meteorology and environmental observations, as well as the development of user driven applications including climate change;
  • Several programmes in the telecommunications sector with a strong cooperation with the private sector to increase the competitiveness of industry;
  • A number of programme elements in the domain of space safety and security to safeguard space assets and ground-based infrastructure.

In total, the Member States committed more than 10 billion Euros. This amount reflects the strong belief of Ministers that space activities represent an essential source for economic development, growth and innovation.

In addition to programmatic decisions, Ministers also decided on the future evolution of ESA and the continued cooperation between the Agency and the European Union.

The success of this Ministerial meeting strengthens ESA as an intergovernmental  organisation that covers all aspects of space activities along the entire value chain. Switzerland as a full member of ESA can benefit from its focused participation. Participation in ESA programmes allows Swiss academic and industrial actors access to procurements, data and international cooperation, and also supports public sectorial policies. Main domains for Switzerland are space science, exploration, earth observation, and telecommunication.

Switzerland is a founding member of ESA and contributes more than CHF 155 million to the Agency’s programmes and activities anually. This investment allows the federal institutes of technology, universities, universities of applied science and Swiss industry to be involved in space missions at various levels, from cutting-edge scientific research to the development of prototypes, industrialisation and to the development of applications. The scientific excellence and technical innovations realised at national level in the space sector, as well as the close collaboration between research institutes and industry are important factors for economic growth.


Address for enquiries:

Renator Krpoun, Head of Swiss Space Office, SERI
Tel. +41 58 460 58 92, renato.krpoun@sbfi.admin.ch


Publisher:

Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research