Home Space European Commission Proposes First-Ever EU Space Law

European Commission Proposes First-Ever EU Space Law

The European Commission has announced that it plans to propose a space law as early as April. If adopted, the law will regulate current developments in space, including traffic management, sustainability, and cyber security.

The European Commission has been working on space law for many years. The European Union began its activities in 2021 with the launch of the EU Space Program, which brings together numerous European space projects, including Copernicus, the Earth observation program, and Galileo, the European solution for space-based navigation.

In 2022, the bloc became even more active in space. At the beginning of the year, the bloc acknowledged space as a strategic area and simultaneously developed the “EU Space Security and Defense Strategy” as a strategic compass to safeguard the continent’s space interests until 2030. The strategy mentions, for the first time, the possibility of adopting an EU space law to “provide a common framework” among countries.
At the same time, a group of European space ministers reached conclusions on the approach to space traffic management—a political issue they consider a priority due to the amount of debris in space. According to the European Council’s estimates, there are currently over a million fragments in Earth’s orbit, and this debris could damage or destroy operational European satellites.

The IRIS2 space program will launch hundreds more European satellites into orbit in the coming years. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has also included the development of the EU space law in her priorities for 2024.

According to Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, the purpose of the EU space law is to create a “real single market” for space. According to the European Space Agency, 11 European countries have national space laws, including Belgium, France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine.

Breton said that these “diverse” national laws constitute a “fragmented approach”, [which] does not allow “us to act as a bloc” of the necessary size to be significant.

According to the Commission’s website, the proposal will work along three main lines: ensuring safe satellite traffic to avoid “growing collision risks,” protecting EU infrastructure from cyber attacks, and creating the European space sector as an “important means of providing services.”

The law could establish minimum requirements for all space systems, particularly regarding collision prevention. It could also contain rules on how and when satellites can be removed from orbit and include ways to reduce cyber security risks.

In its call for evidence on sustainability, the government stated that the European Union has no viable way to measure the impact of space activities on the environment, including emissions produced by space companies. This means that space companies may not comply with other EU environmental rules.



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