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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Mr Chairman, 

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland+ and Serbia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia, align themselves with this statement. 

Over the last decades, the Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (COPUOS) has laid down a firm legal basis for all forms of space activities, which provides for the application of international law and promotion of international cooperation and understanding in the peaceful uses of outer space, for the dissemination and exchange of information through transnational direct television broadcasting via satellites, for remote satellite observations of the Earth, and general standards regulating the safe use of nuclear power sources for the exploration and use of outer space.  

I would like to thank Yasushi Horikawa for his comprehensive presentation today and commend the significant work currently undertaken under the auspices of COPUOS, and to put the emphasis on two major areas of progress: 

– firstly, the final report of the Working Group on National Legislation relevant to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, as approved at the last session of the Legal Subcommittee. This report constitutes an excellent analysis of the current status and development of national space legislation and regulatory frameworks.  

We support the idea of submitting this document to the 67th session of General Assembly in order to give more visibility to this work, which is a positive and concrete outcome of work of COPUOS. 

We would like to express our appreciation to the chair of the working group, Ms Irmgard Marboe of Austria, and welcome the decision of the Legal Subcommittee to include the agenda item “General exchange of information on national legislation on the peaceful exploration and use of outer space” as a regular item in its agenda from next year onward. This will allow the Subcommittee to update the information received on a regular basis.  

– secondly, the effective launch of the Working Group on Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space activities, whose terms of reference have been adopted at the last COPUOS plenary session in 2011, and whose results will be of key importance for our next sessions. 

I would like to express our appreciation to the chairman, Mr Peter Martinez, for his dedication in this major work and look forward to examining and discussing the first outcome of the four experts groups on sustainable development, space debris and space operations, space weather and regulatory regimes. 

Mr Chairman, 

Improving and rationalizing organization and working methods of COPUOS and its Subcommittee is also a key element to achieve significant progress on the substantial agenda of our works in all our Sessions. 

In this respect, we are ready to explore concrete proposals in order to make our sessions more efficient, such as, for instance, the reallocation of resources on an experimental basis in particular in view of the first results of the LTS (Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities) Working Group, the scheduling of our works to avoid a simultaneous opening of several agenda items for consideration, or the possibility to merge items in order to adopt and to focus on an action-oriented agenda and final reports of our meetings.  

Effectiveness and cost-efficiency of our activities should be streamlined in all works of COPUOS and its Subcommittees and, therefore, we would suggest considering this issue early in the agenda to allow adequate time for substantive discussions on organizational matters. 

Mr Chairman, 

Another important part of the discussion held within COPUOS and many other international fora concerns the use of space systems for socio-economic applications. From security to natural resource management, satellites are assuming a growing importance in our everyday life. Topics such as Space and Climate Change, Space and Water, Space and Society prove the continuous need to reflect on the better use of outer space and of space systems and capacities, notably by educating and involving the users of those applications.  

Since its inception, we have been following closely the development of the UN SPIDER programme and welcome the work achieved so far through UN SPIDER, as a dedicated mechanism set up to use space systems for natural disaster relief. The implementation of the programme is central in ensuring that all countries have access to and develop the capacity to use space based information during all phases of disaster management, including the risk reduction phase.     

Mr Chairman, 

Over the last 50 years Europe has developed strong and unique space capacities, which have placed it among the leading space-faring nations, allowing it to take part in major space endeavours. 

The first priorities for the European Space Policy lie in the area of global navigation and Earth observation: the GNSS (Galileo and EGNOS) and GMES programmes. Climate change, security, competitiveness and space exploration have since been confirmed as priority areas where specific action continues to be required. The European Space Agency (ESA) focuses on research and development of space systems while the EU is taking on an increasing responsibility in space matters, especially related to space applications, and also developing a picture of how space could best serve Europe’s citizens and European policies. The EU provides financial resources to the space programmes implementing these policies.  

I would like to highlight important events in the development of our flagship programmes, the official start of operations of EGNOS, the first pan-European navigation satellite programme and at the same time precursor to the Galileo system, on October 1st, 2009. As concerns Galileo, two new satellites were launched on October 12th 2012 from the European Space Port of Kourou and joined the first two in-orbit validation satellites launched in October 2011, allowing the system’s validation and fine-tuning. This constitutes an important milestone for the programme and a new step towards the completion of the deployment and exploitation of a competitive and independent Galileo constellation and its related services.  

Space exploration is now a political and global endeavour and Europe undertakes its action within a worldwide programme. Moreover, the value of space exploration is recognized for inspiring young Europeans to choose a career in science and technology and to strengthen these capabilities in Europe. The EU welcomes the setting up of the high-level international platform to identify the areas of space exploration open to international cooperation, underlining its political importance. 

Mr Chairman, 

Space is a driver for economic growth and innovation for the benefit of all people. It addresses major challenges such as climate change, scarce resources, health and ageing and boosts the competiveness of industry well beyond the space sector, thereby contributing to job creation and economic growth in almost all economic areas worldwide. The key challenge today is to make sure that space activities are undertaken in a sustainable manner. 

Therefore the EU considers it necessary to ensure greater safety, security and sustainability in outer space and believes a pragmatic and incremental process can contribute to achieve this goal. The EU and its member states are committed to the development and implementation of transparency and confidence building measures, as a means to achieve enhanced safety and security in outer space. In that respect, we are also particularly sensitive to the issue of risks posed by space debris which are detrimental to present and future activities in outer space, and should stay among the major priorities of our works, in particular as a core issue in the working group on Long Term Sustainability of outer space activities. 

In its reply to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 61/75 in September 2007, the European Union underlined that voluntary “rules of the road” on outer space activities endorsing best practices between space actors which would serve this objective.  

The European Union has therefore launched a proposal, on the basis of a preliminary draft, for an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space activities. The EU High Representative has carried out further and wider consultations with the aim of establishing a text that would be acceptable to the greatest number of countries, and of adopting the Code of Conduct at an ad hoc diplomatic conference. 

This draft Code of Conduct is based on three principles: freedom for all to use outer space for peaceful purposes, preservation of the security and integrity of space objects in orbit and due consideration for the legitimate security and defence needs of States. We foresee that the Code of Conduct would be applicable to all outer space activities conducted by States or non-governmental entities. It aims at laying down the basic principles to be observed by space-faring nations in both civil and military space activities.  

Wide consultations have taken place since 2010 on a draft in view of adopting an International Code of Conduct on Outer Space Activities. We are pleased that key space-faring nations declared support for and expressed interest in this initiative. Over recent months, intensive consultations and outreach initiatives have been conducted to capitalise upon the momentum these declarations have generated and to further enlarge international support for such a Code. 

Following the discussion on 5 June 2012 in Vienna on the nature and process of this initiative, we have decided to hold the first multilateral experts meeting to discuss the draft Code. This meeting should give the occasion to each participant to present and exchange views on the text, to ask for clarifications and present possible new ideas. All UN Member States are invited to participate.  

Our aim remains to reach an agreement on a text that is acceptable to all interested States, and that thus brings effective security benefits in a relatively short term. At the end of this process, the EU and other supporters of this initiative intend to present a final version of the international Code of Conduct that would be open to participation by all States on a voluntary basis at an ad hoc diplomatic conference. 

This initiative contributes to enhancing international space security together with other on-going international space initiatives, such as the work of the UN COPUOS Working Group on Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities and of the Group of Government Experts on Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space, which the EU considers extremely important and complementary to the principles developed in the Code.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.


* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

+ Iceland continues to be a member of EFTA and the European Economic Area.


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