Strategic Autonomy in EU Space Policy (cepInput)

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In March, the European Union intends to present a European strategy for the economic use of space. The Centre for European Policy (cep) calls for a stronger industrial and geostrategic approach - otherwise the EU's plan threatens to degenerate into a farce. Other players are already in the process of conquering space industrially and militarily.

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"In view of the serious dependence on external players such as SpaceX and the revolution in the global space sector, the EU urgently needs to launch a coherent and standardised launcher strategy in order to become autonomous in space", says Anselm Küsters, cep expert for new technologies, who authored the study together with cep authors Nathalja Nolen and Patrick Stockebrandt. The researchers warn of a possible strategic mistake.

To ensure reliable and autonomous access to space, they propose the creation of a European Launcher Alliance. This cooperation between Member States and the private sector could develop independent and competitive capabilities from non-European providers.

According to the Space Act, dealing with space debris should be one of the central pillars of the European Space Strategy. "It is surprising that the EU focuses on cleaning up space instead of using it, as it is only responsible for about one per cent of space debris", says Stockebrandt. He suggests that the EU should co-finance a certain number of disposal or recycling projects per year to solve the space debris dilemma.

Above all, however, there is a lack of a European strategy for space mining. "The potential value of asteroids is enormous: an asteroid can be worth $10 trillion and contain metals suitable for human use for millions of years", says Nolen. "The EU needs an internationally harmonised and legally bind-ing regime to secure access to these resources and avoid conflicts", says the cep expert. According to the cep study, the overarching goal of the EU space strategy must be for Europe to play a leading role in the peaceful use of space.