At the end of January, the Federal Council decided to seek participation in Copernicus, the EU's Earth observation programme, in the current 2021-2027 programme period. On 16 February, it instructed DETEC to initiate technical talks with the EU in cooperation with the DDPS, the FDFA, DETEC and the EAER.
The EU and the European Space Agency (ESA) launched Copernicus in 1998. The ESA, of which Switzerland is a founding member, is responsible for developing satellites, while the EU manages the data and services provided by the Copernicus programme and ensures its long-term operability.
Copernicus provides a wide range of geographic data and information in fields including environmental monitoring, and is intended to foster Europe’s independent access to global information. It also helps ensure that European satellite and data processing technology industries remain competitive.
Association to Copernicus would allow Switzerland to have a say in shaping the programme, ensure access to this data in the long term and allow industry to participate in the programme’s procurements.
For Switzerland to participate in Copernicus, a bilateral association agreement must be negotiated with the EU and submitted to the Federal Assembly.