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European Commission to present space defence plan in March

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The European Commission will present a strategy to bolster the EU's security and defence efforts in space in March, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said Tuesday, with Russia's war in Ukraine raising tensions in space.

Moscow's invasion last year led to Europe and Russia calling off their previously close cooperation in space, delaying a range of missions and affecting European efforts to launch satellites.

"In the current geopolitical context, we need to enhance the Union's strategic posture to be able to defend our interests, protect our space systems and services and become a more assertive space power," Breton told the opening of the European Space Conference in Brussels.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called Russia's invasion of Ukraine a "wake-up call", saying that the bloc needs to examine "how space assets and services are crucial" to common European action.

A little less than 10 percent of the roughly 5,500 satellites currently orbiting the globe are run by militaries, Borrell said.

"But many others are dual use and they provide critical information to support our security and defence," he added.

Breton said Europe's space strategy would be based on four pillars.

The first aims to strengthen "the resilience and security framework for EU national and commercial space systems," while the second seeks to reinforce the bloc's ability to respond to threats, he said.

The third pillar is to increase the "use of space for security and defence operations," through programmes that observe the Earth and monitor space traffic, as well as increasing cooperation with partners such as NATO, he added.

The final pillar will be to implement an "EU space law" to establish "common rules on safety, security and sustainability of our systems," he said.

Ten of the EU's 27 member states have already started to regulate their space operations, Breton said.

He warned that the EU risked having "diverging national rules" that could have an impact on competitiveness, industry and security.

A new stock index bringing together European space-based companies was also launched on Tuesday, the ESA said in a statement.

The European space stock index "enables investors and people working in finance to monitor the financial performance of European space companies," said the ESA, which developed the project with the European Commission and exchange operator Euronext.

© 2023 AFP

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