Space: A more and more significant domain for EU

Space: A more and more significant domain for EU


In 2022, EU leaders have identified space as a strategic area and called for the development of an EU space strategy for security and defence. This year, the Commission and the High Representative have developed the EU's first security and defence strategy for space. As a result, the first joint communication on a European Security and Defence Strategy for Space was announced on 10 March.

The creation of this document was crucial in the present context of geopolitical change and great power rivalry. Increased threats require the EU to protect its assets on Earth, and in space to secure its interests and defend against hostile activities.

Representatives such as Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, and Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the digital age, addressed the importance of the discussion. They emphasized that outer space has become an area of greater importance, and its security affects the welfare of European societies and economies.

The document

The strategy document describes the space capabilities and highlights the most significant risks, also recommends measures how the EU’s assets can be protected to space systems in orbit or on the ground. In addition, to ensure a consistent common understanding among Member States, the High Representative will prepare an annual classified report addressed to Member States.

The announced measures:

·         Consider the development of an EU Space Law proposal that provides a joint approach to the safety, security, and sustainability of space, ensuring a coherent and EU-wide vision.

·         To establish an Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (ISAC) to raise awareness and facilitate the exchange of best operational practices between commercial and public organizations on space resilience measures.

·         Launch preparatory activities to ensure the EU's long-term independent approach to space, with a clear focus on security and defense needs.

·         In strong cooperation with the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), reinforce the EU's technological sovereignty by reducing strategic dependency and securing the security of space and defense supply.

It announces the importance of responding to threats from outer space with the following;

·         Proposes to extend the existing space threat response system to safeguard Galileo to all EU space assets.

·         Advocates the rapid and effective mobilization of the appropriate EU resources to tackle space threats.

·         Recommends that access to space assets be ensured through the appropriate national space commands in order to provide access to data to identify in-orbit misbehavior and protect EU assets.

·         Space exercises, including with partners, to develop EU responses to security threats in space and to explore solidarity mechanisms.

How to use space for defence?

This highly relevant issue is addressed in the document;

·         Proposes the development of dual-use services that need to be considered when preparing EU space projects' future development.

·         Suggests the development of dual-use services, which requires that security needs be considered when preparing EU space projects' future development.

·         Encourages the launch of two pilot projects: one for services based on Member States' capabilities and the other for a new government earth observation service.

·         Recommends concrete actions to promote cooperation between space and defense start-ups and to develop skills.

The Strategy encourages space security dialogues with non-member countries, especially the United States and other like-minded countries. According to the document, the EU-NATO cooperation will also be developed.


This is not the first time the European Union has drawn up a space agenda, as in 2018, it started planning a program for 2021-2027 under the European Union Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA), which was adopted in 2021 and for which the Commission proposed a new part in 2022. The €13.2 billion package aims to support all space programs over this period and, in addition to developing new ones, will also support projects such as COPERNICUS European Earth Observation System, the GALILEO, the Global Navigation and Satellite Program, and EGNOS, which is European Union’s Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service. The current agenda, however, appears to be much stronger cooperation with security complementarities. The ambition to reduce technological dependency and develop a broad vision for the EU is an effort to maintain strong cohesion between Member States and establish a safe environment in outer space for the future to sustain European prosperity without any security concerns.

Nowadays, however, many things have changed compared to 2018, and the dynamics that shape the great power competition are forcing a reassessment of several defense and security strategies. Alongside China's economic rise, its ambitions in outer space have increased, and it is now one of the major players in satellite missions, with more than 50 launches in 2022. Furthermore, according to official documents, Russia's war against Ukraine has made it the biggest concern to European societies since 2022. In view of these geopolitical changes, the European leadership feels obliged to make defense evolutions on the policy level as well, and this announcement is an essential step in this direction.

In summary, following the geopolitical events of the 21st century, the European Union is constantly monitoring and designing its defense capabilities, focusing on existing areas and developing new ones that may present unique challenges. Moreover, the European Union is repositioning itself strategically, in which its defense capabilities play a vital role in the welfare of both Member States' societies and the world's geopolitical balance. One element of this effort is identifying and developing sectors that will play an essential role in the future of the EU, including space.


The EU Space Program under EUSPA: EU Space Programme (

2023 EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence: EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence (

Author: András Prilenszky

Image: European Union