How not to plan for the future: the European Commission and Europe’s most ambitious EO program

On the 10th Nov. I wrote about a conflict brewing between ESA and the European Commission about the long term funding of the Sentinel missions.

The Commission’s position has been outlined in a statement. It can be summarised as: individual countries will be encouraged to pay into a separate, dedicated fund, to support GMES operations. This is presumably to try to secure a bigger EC budget (because by removing GMES operations the costs are moved off balance sheet yet the EC budget remains the same).

ESA’s position is if you can secure long term funding, we might not launch the satellites. ESA is clearly upping the pressure. Personally I’m with ESA. You don’t plan, design and build a series of five platforms, plan for constellations of satellites, and then claim you’ll pay for it on a year-by-year basis. It is infuriating.

Several countries, including Sweden, have challenged the EC’s stance. The spat only highlights the politicking the EC is willing to use in budget issues, despite damage to bi-lateral and multi-lateral ties, loss of faith and the downright juvenillity of the EC actions. This is one reason why I am happy ESA exists, independent of the EU.

Personally I love the irony of the GMES.info pages: note the “because we need to know” under the logo. Exactly: we need to know if there will be resources to secure the long term operations required to support the Sentinel missions and GMES service. Perhaps it’s also time for ESA to revise it’s webpage on ESA and the EU.

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