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A successful welcome to a new era of Copernicus!

Copernicus Observer
09/06/2017

The "Copernicus Goes Local – Implementing the Space Strategy for Europe" event gathered more than 300 Earth Observation actors and industry representatives from across Europe at the European Parliament in Brussels.

 

 

Brussels, 9 June 2017.Copernicus is a user-driven programme and we need the Copernicus Relays and Copernicus Academy to help us reach its full potential! […] We [EU] also want to go a step further by creating the conditions for a new downstream ecosystem to develop. The Copernicus Relays and the Copernicus Academy will be the backbone of our strategy”.

 

This is how Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs welcomed to the new members of the “Copernicus family” at the official launch ceremony of the Copernicus Relays and Copernicus Academy, that took place last Tuesday.

 

 

 

First row from left to the right: Emanuele Barreca, EC officer; Gedas Vaitukus, Lithuanian Copernicus Relays representative; Josef Aschbacher, Director of Earth Observation Programmes at the European Space Agency; Philippe Brunet, Director of EC’s Directorate for Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence; Constanze Krehl, MEP; Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Monika Hohlmeier, MEP and Chair of the Sky and Space Intergroup; Markku Markkula, President of the Committee of the Regions; Peter Zeil, Copernicus Academy representative; Julien Turpin, EC officer and Stefano La Terra Bella, EC officer.
(© European Commission)

 

 

The European Parliament (EP) in Brussels, the chamber at which all the EU citizens are represented and which houses the more than 750 offices of elected members, was the venue hosting the first milestone for the European Space Strategy and the latest for the Copernicus Programme. The Copernicus Relays and Academy networks, created by the European Commission at the beginning of the year, are a ground-breaking tool for the strong uptake of the Copernicus Programme across Europe, and have aroused vast interest from entities in all participating countries – and beyond.

 

The Copernicus Relays are the regional voices of Copernicus in the individual Member States, thus creating a bridge between the EC and the end-users of Copernicus. The Academy aims to educate and release an increasing amount of Copernicus-savvy people into the workforce bringing together the educational and research sectors across the EU.

 

Bieńkowska, who referred to the Space domain as the “central element of Europe’s strategic autonomy” sent a strong message to the audience: “we need to foster a competitive and innovative European Space sector; and the Copernicus Relays and Academy will play a key role to increase awareness of the Copernicus programme”.

 

 

 

 

Commissioner Bieńkowska (on the left) welcomes the new members of the Copernicus ecosystem.
The voices of the high-level advocates of EU Space policy gathered together at the European Parliament.
(© European Commission)

 

 

Alongside the Commissioner, the event featured other high-level representatives and advocates of Europe’s Space strategy, including: Monika Hohlmeier, MEP, Chair of the Sky and Space Intergroup, who hosted the meeting; Markku Markkula, President of the Committee of the Regions; Philippe Brunet, Director of the Directorate for Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence at EC’s DG GROW; Josef Aschbacher, Director of Earth Observation Programmes of the European Space Agency; Constanze Krehl, MEP; as well as Marian Jean Marinescu, MEP and Vice Chair of the EPP group and Vice Chair of the Sky and Space Intergroup.

 

 

 

 

High-level speakers were all introduced to the audience by Andreas Veispak, Head of Unit for Space Data for Societal Challenges and Growth at EC’s DG GROW.
(© European Commission)

 

 

MEP Hohlmeier mentioned that Europe represents the second largest Space budget in the world, which was estimated at EUR 7 billion in 2015. Between 2014-2020, the EU alone invests over EUR 12 billion in Space activities, out of which the budget for the Copernicus programme is EUR 4.3 billion. The Chair of the Sky and Space Intergroup called upon all EU officials to prioritise the renewal of long-term political and financial commitments for Copernicus for the next EU budgetary period.

 

Director Brunet reaffirmed that the Space Strategy for Europe is ambitious, realistic and tailored to the users’ expressed needs. He highlighted that its priority is clear: ensuring that EU Space programmes remain at the forefront of the technology and know-how of the European industry and “that they benefit everyone, that is, each of us”.

 

The use of Copernicus data in domains such as agriculture, emergency management and maritime surveillance was put forward by the Director as an example to showcase how current downstream services are improving the lives of EU citizens.

 

Regarding the upstream sector, Director Aschbacher explained how ESA will support the European Commission in defining the Space infrastructure (namely the Copernicus Space Component) to tackle EU priorities such as the monitoring of polar weather and CO2 emissions, among other domains. In conclusion Director Aschbacher stated that ESA, under the leadership of the European Commission, and together with EUMETSAT, is defining a new package of future Sentinels.

 

 

 

The event gathered more than 300 participants, including 44 Copernicus Relays and 36 Academy.
(© European Commission)

 

 

At an event where the leitmotiv was ‘Copernicus goes local’, the voice of the President of the Committee of the Regions couldn’t be missed, and President Markkula provided great insight. The President highlighted the new outstanding opportunities that Space technology and satellite data opens up for European regions and cities, and how Europe is becoming stronger as a global player thanks to the ever-advancing Space policy.  He also remarked that the EU has to take on an even more prominent role under the Paris Agreement to save our Planet, and Copernicus data and Climate Change Monitoring service are instrumental to support this agreement and important goal.

 

MEP Krehl continued by stressing the need to activate and involve as many SMEs in the downstream sector as possible, while the regional and local actors have the possibility to promote smart applications across public institutions. In light of several challenges that Europe is facing today, “the negotiation with Member States are more and more crucial for the next Multiannual Financial Framework”. As concluding message, she underlined that the Space policy is a “peace” policy and a showcase as to how nations can join forces to achieve big and noble goals such as monitoring environment and protecting citizens.

 

Insights from the Copernicus Academy and Relays members were provided by Peter Zeil, on behalf of the Universtiy of Salzburg, and Gedas Vaitukus, the Lithuanian Copernicus Relay. Both focused their speeches on forward-thinking ideas for ensuring the success of their respective network.

 

The event cumulated in an interactive session, where the audience was offered an opportunity to share their views and questions, not only through the traditional method – “by raising their hands” – but also through Twitter using the hashtag #CopernicusGoesLocal. Andreas Veispak, Head of Unit for Space Data for Societal Challenges and Growth at EC’s DG GROW, who was moderating the session, gave the stage to some of the participants to ask their questions directly to the high-level speakers.

 

 

Event impressions from Twitter.

 

 

MEP Marinescu closed the event, accentuating that it is necessary to “go local”, invest in creating applications, and make citizens aware of how Space-related applications can help their daily life. He also remarked that the EP and its Sky and Space Intergroup will continue endorsing European Space activities.

 

 

First General Assembly

 

After the European Parliament, all Copernicus Relays and Academy members gathered at EC’s DG GROW premises, where the first annual General Assembly of the two networks took place.

 

Thirty six Academy members were present for the session, as well as forty four Copernicus Relays, most of which travelled from across Europe, and even Japan, to attend this event. This represents 71% of Copernicus Relays and 45% of Copernicus Academy members. Over 20 countries were represented, from Belgium to Japan.

 

Veispak opened the first assembly and moderated the meeting, along with members of the Copernicus Support Office. Over the course of two hours, network members learned about the first achievements of the networks as a whole, and of their individual members in particular. Best practices were emphasised, innovative planned activities presented, and – most importantly – the floor was given to a variety of network members to introduce their initiatives to showcase some exciting examples.

 

Interesting discussions ensued about the future of the network, funding opportunities, practicalities and next steps.

 

 

About Copernicus Relays and the Copernicus Academy

 

The User Uptake and Market Development team at the European Commission (EC) is working towards ensuring that all current and potential users of the Copernicus Programme know how to harness the power of the Programme and its data. To ensure this, the Copernicus Academy and the Copernicus Relays were launched by the Commission at the end of 2016 - and officially this week - , and will play a pivotal role in achieving this objective.

 

As of today, the Network includes 62 Relays and 80 Academy members, which are now half-way through their first year of operations.

 

Read more about the Relays and the Academy networks.

 

 

Readers can access the photo gallery of the event here.


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