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#Copernicus #Galileo #EGNOS - Use of the EU’s space assets under scrutiny of auditors

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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 emphasized the need to maximize 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.”

The audit will assess specifically whether the Commission is promoting effectively the services provided by the EU’s main space programmes. In particular, the auditors will examine whether:

  • The Commission has decided on a robust strategy regarding the use of services and data from the EU’s flagship space programmes;
  • the regulatory framework in place facilitates service and data uptake;
  • the Commission’s activities have actually succeeded in boosting the uptake of services and data, and;
  • the Commission has set up a proper monitoring system for this purpose.

Currently, the EU has three flagship space programmes:

  • Copernicus: the world’s largest earth observation programme. Operational since 2014, it currently has seven satellites in orbit. Copernicus aims to provide accurate information for use in the environment, agriculture, climate, security and maritime surveillance fields.
  • EGNOS: the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service. Since 2009, this system has been supplementing the Global Positioning System (GPS) by reporting on the accuracy of its data and sending corrections for aviation, maritime and land-based navigational use.
  • Galileo: Europe's global navigation satellite system (GNSS). Launched in 1999, the programme has currently 26 satellites in orbit. Galileo aims to provide very precise navigation services.

The audit report is expected to be published towards the end of 2020.

Economy

Sustainable transport: EU funds clean buses, electric charging infrastructure and more in France, Germany, Italy and Spain

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Following the EU's investment of €2.2 billion in 140 key transport projects to jump-start the green recovery, as announced in July, the EU is contributing additional €54 million to five projects that aim at delivering safer and greener transport services. Among the selection are projects deploying cleaner busses with charging infrastructure in Paris and Barcelona. The projects also involve constructing 255 new electric charging stations on Italian roads, and installing ERTMS, the European Rail Traffic Management System on 238 rail vehicles in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

The projects will be supported through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the EU's financial mechanism supporting transport infrastructure, and further contribute to decarbonizing transport as set out in the European Green Deal. These projects were selected through the CEF Blending Facility, which allows the leveraging of additional private financing for the projects, in addition to the EU's support. In total, CEF has now supported 932 projects, with €23.1bn in total. You can find more details on today's five new selected projects here.

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Defence

Security Union: EU law on combatting terrorism led to stronger criminal justice rules against terrorism and more rights for victims

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On 30 October, the Commission adopted a report assessing the measures that member states have taken to comply with the EU rules on combating terrorism (Directive 2017/541). This Directive is the main criminal justice instrument at EU level to counter terrorism. It sets minimum standards for defining terrorist and terrorism-related offences and for sanctions, while also giving victims of terrorism rights to protection, support and assistance.

The report concludes that the transposition of the Directive into national law helped strengthen member states' criminal justice approach to terrorism and the rights afforded to victims of terrorism. While the measures taken by member states to comply with the Directive are overall satisfactory, there are however gaps that are a cause for concern.

For example, not all member states criminalize in their national law all the offences listed in the Directive as terrorist offences. In addition, there are deficiencies in the measures that member states have taken to criminalize travel for terrorism purposes and the financing of terrorism, as well as to support victims.

The Commission will continue to support member states in working towards full and correct transposition of the Directive. Where necessary, the Commission will make use of its powers under the Treaties through infringement procedures. The report will now be presented to the European Parliament and the Council.

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EU

European Union joins world leaders in committing to reverse nature loss by 2030 at UN Biodiversity Summit

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On 30 September, President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) represented the EU at the UN Biodiversity Summit in New York which brings together world leaders to step up global actions for nature and confirm their determination in agreeing a new ambitious global biodiversity framework at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, planned for 2021.

Prior to the summit, President von der Leyen, together with more than 70 heads of state and government endorsed the Leaders' Pledge for Nature, committing to ten decisive actions to address the nature emergency. The President pledged to put nature and the climate at the heart of the EU's recovery plan, committing to tackle the interdependent climate and biodiversity crisis, deforestation, ecosystem degradation and pollution, and move to sustainable production and consumption.

President von der Leyen said: “Nature helps us in the fight against climate change. But it is also our ally in securing prosperity, combating poverty, hunger and inequalities, and is essential to prevent future zoonotic pandemics. We need to act now and bring nature back into our lives. This is the moment for world leaders to join hands and the EU is ready to lead the way. The European Green Deal is our vision and roadmap. We call on all to join this collective effort to create a common movement of change, to make the recovery green and to protect and restore our planet - the only home we have.”

The EU Biodiversity Strategy adopted by the European Commission in May 2020 outlines an ambitious agenda for the EU internally, but also globally. It reaffirms the EU's determination to lead by example in tackling the global biodiversity crisis and in developing an ambitious new UN Global Biodiversity Framework at the 2021 UN Biodiversity Conference.

This includes overarching long-term goals for biodiversity so that by 2050 the world's ecosystems are restored, resilient, and adequately protected; ambitious global 2030 targets in line with the EU's proposed commitments; and improved means of implementation in areas such as finance, capacity, research, know-how and technology.

Ahead of the COP 15, the European Commission also launched the global coalition United for #Biodiversity, calling on all national parks, aquariums, botanic gardens, zoos, research centres, science and natural history museums, to join forces and raise their voice about the nature crisis.

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