Brussels, 23 May 2023
Today the Council adopted conclusions on the ‘Fair and sustainable use of space’, which includes a call for a European approach to space traffic management, at a time when orbits are increasingly congested with space objects.
Space orbits are a common good that we all need to look after not only for ourselves but also for the future generations. We need to continue profiting from the opportunities of satellite technologies, but in a way that is sustainable, safe and fair for all the peoples of the planet.
Mats Persson, Swedish Minister for Education, Ministry of Education and Research
A call for action
Ministers recognise that while space technology provides multiple benefits to society and the economy, some of the orbits around the Earth are congested with satellites and debris that make the future development of space activities riskier and more complex. In addition, light pollution and electromagnetic interference disturb astronomical observation and research.
To tackle these challenges, the Council conclusions call for mitigation measures to monitor and manage existing space debris and to find ways to reduce the amount of waste in future orbital activities.
To achieve these goals, the Council conclusions propose to reinforce capabilities through, for instance, the contribution of the European Union Space Surveillance and Tracking service, in collaboration with the EU Space Programme Agency, to advance towards an EU approach to space traffic management.
The Council conclusions recognise that the space is a global common that should be free for exploration and use by all states. Therefore, it invites the Commission and the member states to explore the acceptance of the Rescue Agreement, the Liability Convention and the Registration Convention under the United Nations Treaties and Conventions on outer space.
The Council conclusions also call on member states and the Commission to continue implementing the 21 voluntary guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, adopted by the United Nations.
On 15 February 2022, the Commission and the EEAS published a communication called ’An EU Approach for Space Traffic Management – An EU contribution addressing a global challenge’ where a definition of the concept of ’Space Traffic Management’ (STM) was proposed. The Council discussed this idea on 22 June 2022 and proposed to use this definition as the basis of the EU work at EU level.
- Council conclusions on ’Fair and sustainable use of space’
- Communication ‘An EU Approach for Space Traffic Management – An EU contribution addressing a global challenge’
Source – EU Council