The European Union Space Programme was established in 2021 by transforming the pre-existing European Space Policy established on 22 May 2007 when a joint and concomitant meeting at the ministerial level of the Council of the European Union and the Council of the European Space Agency adopted a Resolution on the European Space Policy. The policy had been jointly drafted by the European Commission and the Director General of the European Space Agency. This was the first common political framework for space activities established by the European Union (EU).
Currently, each member state pursues their own national space policy, though often co-ordinating through the independent European Space Agency (ESA). Enterprise and Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen has stated that even though the EU is "a world leader in the technology, it is being put on the defensive by the US and Russia and that it only has about a 10 year technological advantage on China and India, which are racing to catch up."
The policy expresses support for an operational and autonomous Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) satellite capability before the end of 2008, and for a global navigation satellite system under European civil control, i.e. the Galileo positioning system.
The European Union has already started work on a project to create the Galileo positioning system, to break dependence on the United States GPS system. This is in cooperation with ESA as well as other countries.
Copernicus is a European system for monitoring the Earth and consists of earth observation satellites and in situ sensors. The program provides services in the thematic areas of land, marine, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management, and security
The policy emphasizes the importance for Europe to maintain independent, reliable and cost-effective access to space through European launch systems, without mentioning any specifically by name. The policy statement affirms support for the "EC-ESA Framework Agreement" and the resolution on the evolution of the European launcher sector adopted in 2005.
The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service provides navigational assistance to aviation, maritime and land-based users over most of Europe. The system supplements data from GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo by monitoring and making corrections to their positioning data
The policy includes the goal of maintaining programmes that give Europe a leading role in selected areas of science. It also calls for the development of technologies that allow European industry to avoid dependency on international suppliers.
The Horizon 2020 programme is the source of funding for a variety of projects, such as:
The European Union stated several reasons its space policy would be beneficial, which include:
Although the United Kingdom is planning to withdraw its membership in the European Union, it still plans on keeping its membership in the European Space Agency. Since members of the European Space Agency contribute funding based on percentage of GDP, the United Kingdom is one of the larger members of the Space Agency and provides a significant amount of funding. If United Kingdom maintains its membership in the European Space Agency after leaving the European Union, it is expected they will pay an appropriate amount for membership, possibly contributing more than a billion euros to the program's overall funding.
The ESA is an independent space agency and not under the jurisdiction of the European Union, although they have common goals, share funding, and work together often. The first meeting of the two groups occurred on 22 May 2007 and the agencies have met multiple times since then The most recent meeting occurred in December 2016, The two groups signed a joint statement on their shared vision and commitment to the future of European space travel and reaffirmed their intentions to cooperate in the future