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17.3.4.  Aeronautical and aerospace industries in the EU

    The aeronautical and aerospace industry consists of two technologically and economically separate sectors, which, however, are closely associated on account of their industrial and political implications and the stakeholders involved and they are examples of where Europe has a tradition of success, and economic and commercial potential. Both sectors could build a strong technological and industrial base in support of the European Security and Defence Policy. However, United States investment in aerospace is three to six times higher, depending on the sector. In an increasingly demanding competitive environment, foreseeable aviation requirements worldwide correspond to some 14000 new aircraft over the first 15 years of the 21st century, representing a market worth EUR 1000 billion. However, whilst the European market constitutes 20% of the world market in civil aircraft and aviation, the share of the European industry in the world market is less than 10%. The American industry is by far the leading world exporter of both civil and military aircraft. In the aerospace field, American supremacy is even more pronounced.

    During the 1970s the aeronautical industry pushed intra-European collaboration further than any other industrial sector, but on a bilateral rather than European level (Concorde and Airbus projects). Such bilateral or multilateral projects suffered from contradictions between national policies, the non-existence of a common commercial strategy and the lack of joint financing. Whilst the Concorde and Airbus programmes were both remarkable technical successes, only the Airbus programme was an immediate commercial success. The success of the "Airbus industries" consortium troubles the United States, which sees its commercial supremacy threatened in the domain of civil aircraft. Although the European Union is not directly involved in Airbus, it brings its full weight to bear in the negotiations with the Americans in international fora, such as the World Trade Organisation.

    The European policy in the aeronautical industry is based on non-compulsory legislation, on concerted action and consultation between the Member States, particularly concerning external aspects [Council Resolution and Council Statement]. In addition to genuine liberalisation of the aeronautics market, the sector's competitiveness hinges first and foremost on research and development. Since 1989, the EC/EU has been co-financing research programmes in the aeronautical-space sector [Regulation 1291/2013 see section 18.4.2]. In the aeronautical industry research covers as a matter of priority the development of advanced technologies for integrated design and production, and for reduction of energy consumption, emissions and noise for various aircraft concepts, as well as the development of technologies improving operational safety and efficiency. Concerning space, R & D contributes to the development of a European space policy, complementing efforts by Member States and by other key players, including the European Space Agency (ESA).

    The treaty of Lisbon established a firm legal basis for the space policy of the Union. Article 189 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU declares that the Union shall draw up a European space policy, in order to promote scientific and technical progress, industrial competitiveness and the implementation of its policies. To this end, it may promote joint initiatives, support research and technological development and coordinate the efforts needed for the exploration and exploitation of space. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall establish the necessary measures, which may take the form of a European space programme, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States. The Union shall establish any appropriate relations with the European Space Agency.

    The European Space Agency (ESA) began work in 1975. At present ESA has 17 Member States. Its membership coincides with that of the EU-15 plus the Czech Republic, Romania, Switzerland and Norway. The EU and ESA have no formal relationship. During its first 25 years, ESA raised Europe’s status from a minor to a major player, with a high degree of self-sufficiency in most aspects of space technology and a capacity for innovations of world class. Ariane rockets developed by ESA have captured a large part of the market in commercial launches of satellites, although the US space industry benefits from large public funding and technological stimulation from the military space sector, which is relatively small in Europe.

    Europe needs an effective space policy to enable it to exert global leadership in selected policy areas in accordance with European interests and values. To fulfil such roles, the EU increasingly relies on autonomous decision-making, based on space-based information and communication systems. In a communication entitled " Europe and space: Turning to a new chapter", which was adopted in agreement with the European Space Agency, the Commission defined the objectives of a European strategy for space: strengthening the foundation for space activities so that Europe preserves independent and affordable access to space; enhancing scientific knowledge; and exploiting the benefits of space-based tools for markets and society [COM/2000/597]. This strategy aims to establish the right political and regulatory conditions for space activities, to catalyse joint R & D efforts and to bring together all the players around common political objectives in projects of Europe-wide interest.

    A Framework Agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency aims at the coherent and progressive development of an overall European Space Policy [Framework Agreement and Decision 2004/578]. In particular, this policy seeks to: link demand for services and applications using space systems in support of the European policies with the supply of space systems and infrastructure necessary to meet that demand; and secure Europe's independent and cost-effective access to space and the development of other fields of strategic interest necessary for the independent use and application of space technologies in Europe. The Framework for Space Surveillance and Tracking Support (SST) contributes to ensuring the long-term availability of European and national space infrastructure, facilities and services which are essential for the safety and security of the economies, societies and citizens in Europe [Decision 541/2014].

    A key element of the European space policy is the development of a global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) at European level offering a service meeting the needs of civilian users [COM/98/29, see also section 18.2.6]. The European satellite navigation programmes, Galileo and EGNOS, cover all the activities needed to define, develop, validate, construct, operate, renew and improve the European satellite navigation systems [Regulation 1285/2013]. The EC/EU has concluded a multi-annual delegation agreement with ESA covering the technical and planning aspects of the programmes. It has also concluded an Agreement with the United States of America for the promotion, provision and use of Galileo and GPS satellite-based navigation systems and related applications [Decision 2011/901 and Agreement].

    The aim of the Galileo programme is to establish the first global satellite navigation and positioning infrastructure specifically designed for civilian purposes, consisting of a constellation of satellites and a global network of earth stations. It is expected to contribute to the development of numerous applications in areas that are associated, directly or indirectly, with common policies, such as transport (positioning and measurement of the speed of moving bodies), insurance, motorway tolls and law enforcement (surveillance of suspects, measures to combat crime). The aim of the EGNOS programme is to improve the quality of open signals from existing global navigation satellite systems as well as those from the open service offered by the system established under the Galileo programme, when they become available. The Galileo and EGNOS programmes are an industrial policy tool and are part of the Europe 2020 strategy [see section 7.3]. Regulation 1311/2013 setting the multiannual financial framework of the Union for the period 2014 to 2020, allocates around EUR 7.1 billion for the financing of activities relating to the Galileo and EGNOS programmes for this period.

    In view of the need to ensure that essential public interests related to the strategic nature of the European satellite radio-navigation programmes are adequately defended and represented, the European GNSS Agency manages the public interests relating to the European GNSS programmes [Regulation 912/2010, last amended by Regulation 512/2014]. This is the licensing authority vis-à-vis the private concession holder, the Galileo Joint Undertaking, responsible for implementing and managing the Galileo deployment and operating phases [Regulation 876/2002]. The GNSS Agency is also entrusted with the responsibility of managing the agreement with the economic operator charged with operating EGNOS. It coordinates Member States' actions in respect of the frequencies necessary to ensure the operation of the system and hold the right to use all these frequencies wherever the system is located. The Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have the responsibility to avert a threat to the security of the Union or one or more Member States or to mitigate serious harm to the essential interests of the Union or of one or more Member States arising from the deployment, operation or use of the European Global Navigation Satellite System, in particular as a result of an international situation requiring action by the Union or in the event of a threat to the operation of the system itself or its services [Decision 2014/496].

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