The Development of Public-Private Partnerships in the European Satcom Sector Actuelles de l'Ifri, The Europe & Space Series, No. 4, May 2011
Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) could help to enhance the societal benefits of communication satellites. However, European public entities must avoid the mistakes made during the Galileo concession negotiations.
The use of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for European space projects is often associated with the spectacular failure of the Galileo concession project in 2004-2007. This is only one side of the story however, as a fair number of space-related PPPs have been initiated successfully Europe in recent years, in particular in the field of Earth Observation (EO) and military satellite communications (milsatcom). This trend has also reached the rest of the satellite communication sector (satcom), as PPPs have progressively become the cornerstone of ESA’s satcom policy and are increasingly considered for the EU’s big satellite infrastructure projects.
Bearing in mind the on-going difficulties encountered by Galileo and GMES to secure long-term funding, PPPs could represent a very interesting option for the sustainable financing of space projects. More generally, PPPs are seen as cost-effective solutions to set-up ambitious infrastructure projects at a time when both public budgets and private investment capabilities are under stress. The most important thing, however, is that the use of PPPs for space projects allows to tackle the central challenges of the European Space Policy (ESP). Indeed, PPPs could contribute to enhanced use of satcom for public service in Europe. PPPs may also strengthen the European space industry, and particularly its R&D capacities. Finally, PPPs could also constitute new experiments in European space governance, bringing together the two main institutional space actors in Europe, ESA and the EU.