Sat. Jun 3rd, 2023

29 June 2022

The member states agreed today on a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposal for a regulation on the Union secure connectivity programme for the period 2023-2027.

The crises we are going through demonstrate every day the essential need for efficient, competitive and sovereign space communication infrastructures. Europe is continuing its initiatives to enable the emergence of connectivity constellations.

Bruno Le Maire, minister for economic affairs, finance and digital and Industrial sovereignty

The objective of the programme is to establish a sovereign secure space-based connectivity system for the provision of satellite communication (‘satcom’) services. It aims to provide governmental and commercial services for the protection of critical infrastructure, surveillance, and support for external action or crisis management, thereby helping to improve the EU’s resilience.

This secure connectivity programme also aims to strengthen the competitiveness of EU satellite communication services through an innovative project involving various stakeholders to ensure that technological advances and their governmental use are a driver of innovation and wider commercialisation in the Union.

Council mandate

The Council text provides more detail on the portfolio of required services and makes a clear distinction between strengthened governmental services provided by government infrastructure (‘hard gov’) and those provided through a commercial infrastructure (‘light gov’).

The mandate clarifies the fact that the Commission is the owner of the programme, but only as regards tangible and intangible assets relating to the governmental infrastructure developed under this programme. The text clearly distinguishes between ownership and use: while the Commission will be entitled to use the frequencies, ownership will remain with the member state.

The Council text clarifies the implementation model for the programme in order to ensure optimal functioning of the future public-private partnership envisaged in the proposal to guarantee an optimal level of governmental and commercial services.

Other changes to the Commission proposal are as follows:

  • the text confirms and builds on the general and specific objectives of the programme and sets out the different phases and activities
  • the Council text clarifies the roles of the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) and ESA’s support in the programme
  • the Council mandate incentivises support for an innovative and competitive space sector and sets out the support measures expected from the Commission
  • as regards the budget, the Council text no longer sets out the amounts from other programmes allocated to the secure connectivity programme, but instead gives a total amount

On 15 February 2022, the Commission presented a proposal for a regulation establishing the union secure connectivity programme for the period 2023-2027.

This programme is particularly important in regard to low orbits. Currently, low orbits are increasingly occupied by third-country mega-constellations, with EU operators facing challenges due to the capital-intensive nature of such projects. It is therefore important to increase the EU’s competitiveness and resilience.

The programme will take into account synergies with other components of the EU space programme, such as the Galileo (satellite navigation) and Copernicus (Earth observation) systems, as well as space situational awareness capacities. The programme builds on the GOVSATCOM component of the EU space programme.

Next steps

Today’s mandate has been endorsed by the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), which will allow the Council presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament.

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