Space as a Key Element of Europe's Digital Sovereignty Notes de l'Ifri, December 2020
At the end of year 2020, the European space sector finds itself at a crossroads between challenges and opportunities. While the 2019 European Space Agency (ESA) Ministerial Conference marked a progression in terms of budgets, a sign of renewed space ambitions, the technological and financial acceleration from the United States represents a disruptive scenario that poses threats to the continuity of European space capabilities.
It is not only a question of the efficiency gains of an American ecosystem that has been able to renew the relationship between public and private, with, for example, the remarkable results in terms of new launchers, but above all the acceleration produced by the paradigm of integration between space and digital. This aspect is particularly significant when looking at broadband telecommunications constellations, large-scale projects capable of installing commercial monopolies that also rhyme with complete integration of the technological chain.
Europe runs the risk of being quickly disqualified if it does not manage to formulate a further leap in quality that will enable it to cope with the power of the current deployment. Space represents a decisive element for digital sovereignty that Europe must not only state but also translate into concrete programs.
This study has been carried out within the partnership between the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik (DGAP) and Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).