NEREUS engaged in a first debate with the newly elected European Parliament and representatives from the European Commission and ESA on the current GIO-draft-regulation on 17 November 2009, 19.00 – 21.00 h.
The aim was to enhance the dialogue with the European Parliament and to highlight European regions’ concerns with regard to the GIO-proposal. Almost 100 participants including a number of Members of European Parliament like MEP Dr. Angelika Niebler, Bill Newton-Dunn and Vittorio Prodi and representatives from European Institutions joined the debate. The Brussels based NEREUS-community but also representatives from the NEREUS-regions and regional politicians and authorities like Massimo Buscemi, Regional Minister of Services of General Interest, Networks and Sustainable Development of Lombardy region and André Lespagnol, Vice President Higher Education, Research and Innovation from Brittany Region attended the Parliament evening.
The hosts MEP Françoise Castex from Midi-Pyrénées and MEP Michael Gahler from NEREUS-member region Hesse opened the evening by welcoming the participants. MEP Gahler referred to the space landscape in his region Hesse which is home of two European space agencies: ESOC, the European Space Operation Center, which is the satellite control center of the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT, being in charge of operating the METEOSAT weather satellites from Darmstadt.
NEREUS-president Alain Beneteau, vice president from Midi-Pyrénées region gave a comprehensive presentation of the NEREUS-initiative and its recent development and highlighted the characteristics that distinguish NEREUS from other networks in the space sector. It is the first network of regional governance that allows for integrating space technologies into cohesion, economic, social and just recently territorial objectives that European Union defined. It is not only open for regions with a strong space potential but to all European regions. NEREUS gives special attention to the double information flow between the regions that pave the way and have often an initiating role and the European level which proposes. In this context NEREUS aims to position itself as a unique player in European space policy-making, which interacts horizontally as a meeting point for ground dynamics, offering a platform for interregional cooperation and has at the same time a vertical dimension with regard to the construction of Europe. The president put particular emphasis on the financial independence of NEREUS, living solely on its yearly membership fees. Its vocation is not to respond itself to calls and tenders of European programs but to accompany its members in building partnerships. As an example he quoted the DORIS-initiative which brings together a number of NEREUS-partners under the lead of CEON (Bremen) to respond to a FP7 call. In line with the networks’ role is the participation in the PEGASE-project where NEREUS has been approached alongside with other relevant networks such as ENCADRE and ESINET , to represent territorial governing bodies, with the aim to take stock of regional initiatives, problems encountered and lessons learnt, main regional market segments and stimulate cooperation between regions, whether they have a space industry capacity or they are only concerned with space applications in order to give policy recommendations.
With regard to the GMES-program the NEREUS-president highlighted that he sees it as an essential tool to support environmental policies and to take care that they are well implemented.
Keynote speaker MEP Norbert Glante coming from one of the German Länder that counts among NEREUS-members, Brandenburg, highlighted the significance of the GMES-project for Europe and the immense benefit it offers for the European citizen. Being rappoteur Glante compiled a report on the GIO-Regulation which will be discussed in the beginning of December 2009 in the ITRE-Committee and voted upon in the plenary in spring 2010. ITRE -rapporteur MEP Norbert Glante highlighted the significance of the GMES-project for Europe and the immense benefit it offers for the European citizens. The European Parliament across all political parties is quite supportive of the European Commission’s proposal and aware of its impact for environment and society. Top priority according to MEP Glante is to avoid time lags such as with the Galileo-program. Another crucial objective is to base the project on a solid financial fundament, which also includes e.g. a diligent planning of the space component. Enough money has to be available at the right time. MEP Glante suggested entering commitment appropriations in the current financial framework period to be able to obtain essential components for satellites. This might help to prevent high costs at a later stage and thus save tax payer’s money. The continuous and reliable provision of data is vital for ensuring that user and data processors have planning reliability so that solid business models can evolve. With regard to the free-access of satellite data MEP Glante mentioned that the free-of-charge availability of data is a key element, but this should not endanger the business concepts of already existing businesses. Also duplications in data collection between ESA and the Member States have to be averted. MEP Glante showed himself confident that the European Parliament jointly with the decision makers of the other two European Institutions will succeed to create a good regulatory framework for GMES to move it to the operational phase.
ESA-representative Michel Praet emphasized the benefits GMES might have for European regions. Each European region is either already being in GMES, or will be involved, independently from the fact that it has space manufacturers on its territory or not. Already a number of SME’s that do not belong to the traditional space manufacturers field but are already using Envisat, Spot, Topex-Poseïdon, Vegetation, Proba and so on and that will reap advantages from the sentinels data. Praet encouraged the NEREUS-network to intensify its relations with the European Parliament and to identify in each of its 25 member regions one Member of European Parliament being interested in space matters who act as “the” space voice of his/her region.
With regard to the GIO-Regulation the representative of the European Commission Giancarlo Granero made the participants aware that the proposal has a much broader dimension it is not only about “initial operations” – it gives birth to a fully-fleshed European GMES-Program with a long-term vocation including objectives, scope, governance and – of course – funding.
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