State Secretary Martina Hirayama attends European Space Summit in Toulouse

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On 16 February, ministers from European Space Agency (ESA) member states met in Toulouse, France, to discuss how to further develop and implement Europe’s space ambitions. State Secretary Martina Hirayama took part in the summit. The meeting of 19 November 2021 in Portugal gave a boost to Europe’s space activities - the ESA Council has now confirmed that it will be going forward with the new initiatives launched by the ESA Director General. These initiatives, which will benefit from ESA, the EU, all their respective member states and the private sector, will contribute to a strong presence in space for Europe.

The ministers in charge of space affairs from ESA and EU Member States met in Toulouse for a European Space Summit. This meeting continues on the trajectory set by a previous meeting on 19 November, which gave a boost to Europe’s space activities by defining new initiatives aimed at advancing Europe’s activities in space in specific priority areas, called -accelerators-: contributing to a green future, rapid and resilient crisis response, and the protection of space assets. This ESA Council at ministerial level helped strengthen the legitimacy of ESA and its member states to make useful contributions in all these areas.

At this week’s meeting, State Secretary Martina Hirayama informed Switzerland’s European partners of the Federal Council’s intention to participate in the Copernicus component of the EU-s space programme in addition to the Galileo and EGNOS components, in which Switzerland has been involved from the beginning. Ms Hirayama reiterated the importance of taking an inclusive course when pursuing space activities in Europe.

ESA Director General Joseph Aschbacher described to the EU how the ESA’s accelerators will contribute to space in Europe and to the new projects that the European Commission announced on 15 November on secure connectivity and Space Traffic Management (STM).

Switzerland is a founding member of ESA and makes an annual contribution of CHF 185 million to the Agency’s programmes and activities. Thanks to this investment, Swiss higher education institutions and Swiss industry can contribute to space missions at various levels. Scientific excellence and technical innovations in the space sector at national level, as well as close collaboration between research institutes and industry are important factors for economic growth. Having been a member of ESA since it was founded, and thanks to its participation in EU programmes, Switzerland makes an indispensable contribution to European space affairs and remains globally competitive in this sector.