Bild aus der ISS symbolisch für die Schlüsseltechnologie Raumfahrt; Quelle: ESA/NASA


The leading figures in European space flight are meeting in Seville on 6 and 7 November 2023 for the European Space Summit. Dr Anna Christmann, Federal Government Coordinator for German Aerospace Policy, is representing Germany and is also chairing the ESA Ministerial Council. The summit of the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Union and their respective members aims to improve the coordination of European space flight activities and to make better use of the possibilities offered by space flight for commerce and society.

Dr Christmann said: “Seville is sending out a strong signal for the future of European space flight. I am pleased that we are taking a new approach together for a strong, sovereign space economy during Germany’s chairing of the ESA Ministerial Council. Through the European Launcher Challenge, we are encouraging competition and innovation for launchers, and this will be a milestone for European access to space. The same goes for the time after the International Space Station and the use of space technologies for climate action. Space-based data and services are a key part of the puzzle here. Without our activities in space, we would be unable to systematically understand climate change and to respond effectively to the climate crisis.”

On the first day, the 22 ESA members committed to independent European access to space via the commissioning in the near future of the new Ariane 6 launcher and its operation over the coming years. At the same time, for the first time in the history of European space flight, a competition is to be initiated between commercial launchers with a view to preparing, step by step, the next generation of European launchers. Germany, France and Italy have signed a joint declaration in order to support this process. Going forward, concepts are to be drawn up in a commercial competition for European freight flights to near-earth-orbit space stations. In this way, Europe is to be made fit for the time after the decommissioning of the International Space Station at the beginning of the next decade. Further to this, it was decided that the ESA should step up its efforts to intensify the contributions made by space flight to sustainable environmental and climate policies. This is intended to give significant support to the attainment of the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and the EU’s Green Deal.

There will be an informal meeting of the EU space ministers on the second day of the European Space Summit. The focus here is to be placed on the role of space flight for security and defence policy. Greater investment in European space infrastructure, e.g. secure satellite-based communication, and also the improved use of market-oriented solutions, are to enable Europe to act more independently in key capabilities and thus to become more resilient in a crisis.

At the end of the summit, under the leadership of Germany as the chair of the ESA Ministerial Council and Spain as the EU Council Presidency, an informal exchange is to take place with the member states of ESA and the EU and the European Commission and the top echelons of ESA. A final statement is to highlight the massive importance of space flight for sustainable environmental and climate policy-making. As part of this, the European earth-observation programme Copernicus is to be further strengthened. The concluding paper also confirms that service-oriented, commercial approaches to space flight are to be pursued even more than in the past, in order to make European space flight more efficient and competitive.