Is space the new EU defence?

Space policy

These are exciting times for the European Union and for the newly renewed European Institutions. The European Parliament sees new coalitions and its composition has never been so diverse; and the European Commission, led by von der Leyen, welcomes new ambitions, aspirations and tasks. New DGs have been created to tackle and inspire future European generations.

It is the case of the new DG Defence Industry and Space entrusted to Commissioner Sylvie Goulard. Commissioner Goulard, succeeds previous Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, inheriting the double post of Internal Market and Defence.

With a high European profile, Commissioner Goulard is well known for expertise on economic and EU affairs. She was first adviser to Romano Prodi, former Commission’s President; MEP for the liberal ALDE group from 2009 to 2017; and deputy governor at the French central bank. In 2017 she was appointed Minister of Defence with Macron but had to resign following an investigation about parliamentary assistants’ inappropriate expenses.

This nomination has been strongly endorsed by French President Macron, who though hoped for France to be entrusted with the COMP portfolio, but also envisioning the creation of a strong European defence “based on local industry”

The new Commission’s statement clearly sets out the need of a European industrial policy, driving Europe’s innovation and competitiveness, through technological transition and safety for the European people. Commissioner Goulard will also oversee the DG Defence Industry and Space, dealing with the creation of a European Defence Fund and in charge of military’s projects. This is a highlight, bearing in mind that NATO keeps being the cornerstone of Europe’s collective defence. However, Europe will stay transatlantic while becoming more European, creating a unique and comprehensive European defence. This new DG is to deepen the link between space and security and how space programs can be used to tackle emergency situations and operations.

DG DEF will deal with:

  • implementation and oversight of the European Defence Fund
  • building an open and competitive European defence equipment market
  • implementation of the Action Plan on Military Mobility
  • foster a strong and innovative space industry
  • implement the future Space Programme, covering Galileo and EGNOS, the EU’s global and regional satellite navigation systems and Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation programme.
  • improving the crucial link between space and defence and security. You should support the Member States in increasing the uptake of the Galileo Public Regulated Service, which can be used by governments for emergency services, peacekeeping operations and crisis management.

On the technical institutional side, DG DEF will absorb the units that so far were under DG GROW’s responsibility, namely the defence and space-related issues: GROW.02 (Financial Management of Space Programmes), and Directorates GROW.I (Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence) and GROW.J (EU Satellite Navigation Programmes); GROW.G3 (Access to Procurement Markets) dealing with defence procurement.

The implementation of the Directorate-General for defence is the answer to a political need that defence is an increasingly strategic field for the European Commission and the EU. Meetings and talks have been around Brussels for the past year, fuelled by a geopolitical scene that has asked to increase competences in this domain. It remains now to see whether all the EU28 will agree to hand over more competences: on one side, because it could mean more power to the European Commission (France), and on the other side, generating new alternatives to NATO. However, there is potential for DG DEF to succeed.


Related Articles

Back to Top