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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.

19 October 2015, New York – Statement by the European Union and its Member States delivered by Mr. Jacek Bylica, Principal Adviser and Special Envoy for Non-proliferation and Disarmament, European External Action Service, United Nations General Assembly 70th session Fourth Committee, 9th meeting Agenda item 53: International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

– As delivered –

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

I would like to thank Mr. A. Ousedik, the Chair of COPUOS, for his comprehensive presentation today.

The EU would like to thank Ms Simonetta Di Pippo for her dedicated work as the Director of the Office for Outer Space Affairs.

The EU supports consideration of COPUOS membership applications as a package and supports COPUOS membership for all 6 candidate countries – El Salvador, Israel, Oman, Qatar, Sri Lanka, and United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Chairman,

Space is a driver for economic growth and innovations for the benefits of all people. Space activities and technologies contribute to tackling major challenges such as climate change, disaster management, health and the protection of the environment and of scarce resources. They also boost the competitiveness of industry well beyond the space sector, thereby contributing to job creation and socio-economic development in almost all economic areas worldwide. In the European Union, we have developed strong and unique space capacities, allowing us to take part in major space endeavours.

Key priorities for European Space Policy lie in the area of global navigation and earth observation with the involvement of the EU in two flagship programmes: Galileo and Copernicus. The EU funds the Galileo programme, which is Europe’s initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. The EU also funds EGNOS, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, which is a space based augmentation system.

On 27 March 2015, two Galileo satellites were successfully launched and put into orbit, joining the other 6 Galileo satellites already in orbit. The Galileo satellite navigation system will allow improved services ranging from inter alia more precise in-car navigation, effective road transport management, search and rescue services, more secure banking transactions as well as reliable electricity supply, which all rely heavily on satellite navigation technologies.  Galileo will provide new business opportunities in a wide variety of applications in many sectors of the economy worldwide.

As regards EGNOS, to date in the EU more than 250 EGNOS-based landing approaches are currently available at more than 110 airports. Precision farming is another area where widespread use of EGNOS is being made in the EU.

Mr. Chairman,

Copernicus is the long-term European Union Earth observation and monitoring programme under the former name of GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) and established by a Regulation that entered into force in 2014. It is a user-driven programme under civil control, which will notably encompass the launch of six families of dedicated, EU-owned earth observation satellites and instruments – the so-called Sentinels – and the ramp-up of the 6 Copernicus Services in the fields of atmosphere-, marine- and land-monitoring, climate change, emergency management and security. The Emergency Management and Land Monitoring Services have been operational since 2012. The Copernicus Emergency Management Service has two main components: Early Warning for floods and forest fires, and Mapping. The Emergency service provides reliable maps derived from satellite images to assess the impact and respond to natural and man-made disasters all over the world, in order to assist crisis managers, civil protection authorities and humanitarian aid actors, as well as those involved in preparedness and recovery activities. These activities are carried out as much as possible in coordination with international partners, including UN-SPIDER.

Copernicus data and services are available on a full, open and free-of charge basis to users, including EU institutions, Member States’ authorities, the private sector for the development of commercial downstream applications and services, international partners, the global scientific community, and interested citizens. It also constitutes a major asset for climate and environment policies from the local to the global level and for many other areas, such as maritime safety and security, agriculture, the prevention and management of disasters, urban and infrastructure planning. In this framework Copernicus constitutes a good example of peaceful space observation to the service and support of the citizens and the planet.

The first Copernicus Satellite, Sentinel 1-A, was launched on 3 April 2014 from Kourou and is delivering excellent quality data for the benefit of the users. The data and products generated by the operational and pre-operational services are already available to the public on dedicated Copernicus websites. Additional data, notably for land, coastal, marine and atmospheric observation will be gathered with Sentinels 2-A and 3-A, whose launches are planned for this year.

Mr. Chairman,

Space research is an important part of the EU activities in space domain. Currently space research is supported in Horizon 2020 under the priority “Industrial Leadership”, in line with the main objective and challenge to ensure that space will remain accessible and safe to operate in the long run. This is a long-term challenge that requires a long-term approach which must encompass several areas such as ensuring the supply of critical space technologies, including critical components, at cost effective and affordable conditions. It is also important to promote industry capability and technology readiness, as well as space situational awareness capabilities to cope with threats such as space orbital debris (including space surveillance and tracking). An important challenge and an opportunity is to reap the benefits of investments in the space sector, primarily by carrying out research and innovation actions for preparing applications and downstream services exploiting the opportunities of data and signals available through the Galileo and Copernicus systems. Support for space exploration and space science activities is also covered by Horizon 2020, by contributing, for instance, to the exploitation of scientific data delivered by space missions.

One of the main priorities of the Horizon 2020 programme is to address global societal challenges such as sustainable development, including climate change and environmental action, through research and innovation-related activities. The Horizon 2020 programme emphasises the importance of international cooperation in the field of research and innovation in order to effectively address many objectives defined in the programme particularly the societal challenges, which need to be tackled at the global level. International cooperation in research and innovation is a key aspect of the EU’s global commitments and has an important role to play in the Union’s partnership with developing countries, which are often disproportionately affected by global challenges.

Mr. Chairman,

Today, the space environment faces significant challenges, stemming from the proliferation of dangerous orbital debris which increases the likelihood of destructive collisions, the crowding of satellites, inter alia, in geo-stationary orbit, the growing saturation of the radio-frequency spectrum, as well as the threat of deliberate disruption or destruction of satellites. These challenges call for the serious and timely involvement of states to ensure greater safety, security and sustainability in outer space.

We attach great importance to the development and implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures as a means of strengthening security and ensuring sustainability in the peaceful use of outer space. The non-legally binding voluntary International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, suggested by the EU in 2007 in response to UNGA Resolution 61/75, is a contribution to Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities.

Three rounds of broad Open-ended consultations on the International Code of Conduct have already been conducted in a transparent and inclusive manner. At the third and final Open-ended consultation in Luxembourg in May 2014, a strong desire had been expressed by many participants to bring the process from a consultative to a negotiating phase.

The meeting convened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 27-31 July 2015 at the initiative of the European Union with the assistance of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs entitled “Multilateral Negotiations on an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities” was very well-attended, with delegations from 109 States and 8 inter- and non-governmental organizations. We regret that negotiations could not commence after so many years of consultations, but we are confident that the rich and substantial discussions in New York both on the substance and on the process will help the international community to move forward.

The European Union continues to believe that responsible space-faring nations as well as those who aspire to become space-faring nations should endeavour to agree on key principles in order to preserve outer space as a global common good. We hope that all nations would render their support to such a step, with the shared sense of urgency and responsibility for preserving outer space for the peaceful use by all humankind. We also hope that such an announcement could be part of wider efforts to facilitate future negotiations on an international code of conduct for outer space activities.

The EU supports the work done this year in the Legal Subcommittee and welcomes the addition of two new single issues to its agenda, namely “Space traffic management” and “Application of international law to small satellite activities” as evidence of the active role this Subcommittee can play.

 We appreciate the work of the Working Group on Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities and would also like to express our appreciation to the Chair of the Working Group, Mr. Peter Martinez.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

  • Ref: EUUN15-160EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Fourth Committee - Special Political and Decolonization Committee
  • Date: 19/10/2015

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