Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The European Union: Outer space

What is the most important thing the European Union needs to work on?
  • The financial crisis?
  • Global warming?
  • Secure gas supply?
  • Democracy and human rights in its neighbourhood and beyond?
I would propose to work on a Code of conduct on Outer Space activities - because some things the EU does seem to be so much outer space...

(I had seen this thing before but was reminded by this Council document published today.)


Vincent Lieser said...


I understand - and share - your point of view when it comes to absurd priorities the Commission and/or the Council sometimes make public. For instance, in the midst of the biggest economic crisis of the last 80 years or so, last autumn, the commission published a proposal to improve welfare of animals at slaughter (http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1371&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en).

Yet, I think you are shooting at the wrong target by blaming "outer space" issues.

First, the European space agency (ESA) budget is only 3 billion €, a very tiny percentage of the EU's GDP.

There have been many technological advancements due to space exploration and research and, above all, a ambitious european space policy could be the Archimedes lever of an economic recovery.

The money we're spending now might really help in the long run. I am not talking about fantasies such as mining from space rocks but about useful tools that could help us understand Earth's climate better or improve our capacities in robotics.

So, I agree with you when it comes to the essential : the EU must focus on what the EU citizens really need. But sometimes, we think short term and do not see how important it is to be a bit "outer space"...especially when you realise that developing a european space policy does not go whithout establishing a code of conduct on outer space activities...

Julien Frisch said...

Hi Vincent,

thanks for you comment; I appreciate it.

And just to be clear: I sometimes use the opportunity of interesting documents to exaggerate a little bit. In fact, I acknowledge the necessity of such a document.

The problem with the Council is that you never know how much time is actually spent on such issues, how much importance is given to discussions that are not directly related to pressing problems - especially in comparison with really important topics. My experience in diplomatic work is that quite often more time is spent on the least important things because they are the least controversial.

That is why I dig up such documents: To show the diversity of what is going on in the Council, and the importance it has even for those seemingly minor issues, but without getting proper attention (despite in this and a few other public fora).

The rest is irony and exaggeration... ;-)

Vincent Lieser said...

Ok, Julien, I might have kinda overreacted :o)

But when it comes to vital issues such as european matters or, say, football tactics, it's just stronger than me...