European Commission to present space defense strategic plan in March

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The European Commission will present a strategy to bolster the EU’s security and defense 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.

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“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 defense,” 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 defense operations,” through programs 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.

Read more: NATO to expand collective defense clause to jointly respond to attacks in space

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