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Ariane 5 take off, on July 1, 2009 in Kourou, French Guyana.

France pushes EU to reveal plan for boosting space agenda

Image credit: Amskad/Dreamstime

The French government is urging the European Union (EU) to challenge China and the US in the global space race with proposals for a stronger industrial policy.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire has called on Brussels to provide a roadmap regarding space launchers by June this year.

EU officials have already pledged to pursue a more aggressive European space strategy to prevent being outmuscled by Beijing and Washington when it comes to launcher technology. The EU has also set up an alliance with industry chiefs, said an EU official last month.

Over the past decades, Europe has sought to build its own access to space to make it independent from US and Russian pioneers and help its industry, with successes such as Ariane rockets or GPS-rival satnav Galileo.

Le Maire and European commissioner Thierry Breton held a press conference on Monday (15 February), calling for more strategic EU projects in the field of space exploration. 

The conference came ahead of the publication this week of a European Commission “action plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries”.

Speaking alongside Breton, Le Maire said: “If we want Europe to be a continent that matters in the 21st Century, if we want Europe to have a strategic place ahead of China and the USA, it is essential that we invest more in the space domain.”

“We have to give ourselves the means,” he continued. “[French President Emmanuel] Macron has entrusted me with the responsibility to handle space matters. This is an area where we want to see results in the coming weeks. We share with the European Commissioner the vision of a Europe which covers all the fields of space.

Le Maire said at the conference that there is ongoing work with Germany and Italy to define a European roadmap in June 2021, stressing that Europe needs to be quick on these subjects and have new ambitions.

He explained: “We want the EU to cover all subjects that make it possible to guarantee the industrial and economic profitability of this project: location – Galileo, observation – Copernicus and communication – Breton’s project on a satellite-navigation constellation.”

Earlier this month, during a Parliamentary debate on the future of the space industry, MPs warned that the UK is falling behind France and Germany in the European space race.

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