The European Court of Auditors is examining how effectively the European Commission has promoted the uptake of services provided by two of the EU’s key space programmes, Copernicus and Galileo. Around €260 million were allocated to these activities from the EU budget for the period 2014-2020.
The EU currently has three space programmes: Copernicus, which provides data from earth observation satellites; Galileo, a global satellite navigation and positioning system; and EGNOS, a European regional satellite-based augmentation system used to improve the performance of global navigation satellite systems. Up to the end of 2020, total EU expenditure for the deployment of infrastructure and the operation of satellites and ground stations will amount to some €19 billion. A further €15.5 billion has been proposed by the Commission for the 2021-2027 period.
The EU is not the only provider of space services worldwide. The United States have been pioneers in the area of earth observation (Landsat) and they launched the world’s first global satellite navigation systems (GPS). China, Russia and other countries also operate global navigation satellite systems or satellites providing earth observation data. In view of this, and the large amount of public money involved, the Commission has emphasised the need to maximise the use of the EU’s space assets and promote a strong user uptake of space services. Wide use of these services should also create new jobs, boost technological innovation and productivity, and contribute to better designed policies, for example in the environment and security policy sectors.
Today, the auditors have published an Audit Preview on the EU’s space assets and their use. Audit Previews provide information on an ongoing audit task. They are designed as a source of information for those interested in the policy or programmes being audited.
“Following substantial financial efforts, the EU has become a global player in terms of space-based earth observation and navigation services. But these services are not yet used widely enough in the EU internal market”, said Mihails Kozlovs, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the audit. “Our audit will determine in particular if the European Commission’s promotion measures have been effective in maximising the benefits of this public investment for EU taxpayers and the economy as a whole.”