The Lisbon Treaty and the Evolution of European Space Governance Actuelles de l'Ifri, The Europe & Space Series, No. 12, September 2013
Until the adoption of the Lisbon treaty in December 2007, there was no explicit reference to space in the EU’s constitutive documents. While the European Space Agency has been active in space since the mid-1970s, the Union’s policy remained without a legal basis for space activities. Parallel to the treaties’ evolution however, the EU’s competences never stopped expanding to new fields, bringing it ever closer to space and its various applications. Creativity and dynamic uses of these existing competences have allowed the EU to progressively interfere with the space sector and to get closer to ESA.
In 2004, a Framework Agreement between the EU and ESA formalized the cooperation between the two institutions with the ambition to “link demand for services and applications using space systems in support of the Community policies with the supply of space systems and infrastructure necessary to meet this demand”. According to this division of roles, the EU would work on the demand side for space-related services and applications, while ESA would work on the supply side. One can clearly point out some kind of “implicit agreement” in which the EU would see the scope of its responsibility in the European space governance directly linked to its ability to increase funding for space related programmes.
If this Framework Agreement represents a first draft of a renewed European space governance architecture, it only formalizes a relationship between two institutions. The stated goal of finding a new European space policy is thus closely associated with the need to clarify the respective powers of the Union and ESA and the establishment of an institutional framework for effective cooperation between the two entities.