Amsterdam, 17 November 2008
European space policy is increasingly driven by military rather than civilian objectives, according to From Venus to Mars: the European Union´s steps towards the militarisation of space, a new report from the Transnational Institute and Campagne tegen Wapenhandel (Dutch Campaign Against Arms Trade).
The report is released on the eve of the European Space Agency (ESA) Ministerial meeting in The Hague, Netherlands on 25 and 26 November, which will set new objectives and budgets for the agency.
“Under the guise of ´dual use´ technologies, we are witnessing the creeping militarisation of European space policies” says Frank Slijper, author of the report. “The EU is now investing large sums in new military space technologies at the behest of the very businesses that stand to profit from its policies.”
From Mars to Venus charts the emergence of a military role for the formerly purely civilian ESA. The report highlights how projects that are initially presented as civilian or civil security initiatives often have ´dual´ or multiple use that includes a strong military component. For example, the main rationale for the Kopernikus project, which gives the EU a global monitoring capacity, is now more clearly stated in terms of its capacity for providing intelligence to support future European and NATO military interventions.
The Galileo project, the much-troubled European satellite navigation system which has cost an estimated ¤3.4 billion to date, is also closely connected to military use, whereas public perception is that the project is fully civilian.
The report also profiles the major actors in this sector, explaining how the Aerospace and Defence Industries business lobby sets the agenda for European space policy, drawing attention to the role of major defence contractors (including EADS, Thales and Finmeccania).
The shift in EU policy is also set in context of a broader international trend to use space for military objectives, which risks triggering a new arms race.