3 November 2014. In its role as permanent secretariat to the European Interparliamentary Space Conference (EISC), ESPI assisted this year’s French Presidency in the organisation of the XVIth Plenary session, which took place in the French Parliament in Paris on 19-20 October 2014. This year’s Presidency, under the co-Chairmanship of Senator Bertrand Auban and MP Chantal Berthelot, focused on the theme ‘Space and Growth’
The Plenary Session was held over the course of two days, with the first featuring interventions by prominent speakers from an array of industrial, and institutional actors, as well as round tables, and the second day being reserved for the discussion and adoption of the resolution by the Members. In addition, the French Parliamentary Space Group (GPE) hosted two evening events, one on Sunday 19th at the Maison de l’Europe (co-hosted by Women in Aerospace) and the second on Monday 20th at the French Senate (preceded by a piano concert by pianist Claire-Marie Le Guay).
With this year’s theme centred on Space and Growth, the ambition was to understand the impact of space on economic growth and, conversely, how growth impact space. With many current debates focused on economic issues, the Presidency wished to look into the role of space in these matters, the relationship between space and economic growth, and the potential avenues to be explored by the space community.
The conference was introduced by keynote speeches by MP Chantal Berthelot (Chairwoman of the GPE and EISC), as well as Ms. Geneviève Fioraso (French Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research), Mr. Jean-Yves Le Gall (President of CNES), and Mr. Jean-Jacques Dordain (Director General of ESA).
Following the introductory remarks, three round tables took place during the day. The first related to ‘Space and Connectivity’. While the key note speech for this was given by Mrs. Francoise Laborde, the panel was chaired by Mr. Patrice Martin-Lalande (MP and co-president of the parliamentary study group on Internet). The panel included speakers from the European Space Agency, CNES, EUTELSAT, Airbus Defense and Space, and Thales Alenia Space. The round table explored the need for connectivity in all territories, as well as the different spectrum bands and constellations that can be and are used to enable connectivity across the globe.
The second round table related to ‘Space for Earth Observation’ and was moderated by Mr. Peter Hulsroj, Director of ESPI. The panel included high-level speakers from CNES, the European Commission, Eumetsat, Airbus Defense and Space, Thales Alenia Space, SME4SPACE, and AXERAL cooperative. Among the points raised were the socio-economic benefits of meteorological satellites, the cost-benefit analysis of Copernicus, the crossroads facing the Earth Observation industry, the importance of geo-intelligence, the role and importance of small and medium sized companies in earth observation, along with the agricultural user perspective.
The final round table was dedicated to growth for space, or how to support and improve growth in the European Space sector through for example better products. Following an introduction by French Senator Alain Gournac, and presentations by Anne Bondiou-Clergerie (Business R&D Director, Space and environment, at GIFAS) and Mr. Denis Neiter (Deputy Head of Aeronautic, Military, and Naval Affairs, at the French Treasury), the round table was moderated by Mr. Jean-Jacques Tortora (Secretary General of Eurospace), and included representatives from CNES, Airbus Defense and Space, SAFRAN, Thales Alenia Space, Arianespace, and OHB. With the focus on better products in Europe, the main elements discussed included the European launchers, and satellites, but also the need for increasingly competitive products and engagement of European states. Following the three round tables, the first day of the Plenary Conference was concluded by MP Chantal Berthelot.
This year also included the second edition of the EISC-ESA ‘Space for Sustainability Award’, which was launched during the Polish Presidency of the 14th European Interparliamentary Space Conference. This award was created with the intention to raise awareness, stimulate the debate on space and sustainable development (SD) issues and be a tool for innovative and creative project ideas in those areas. The winners of this EISC-ESA Second Edition Award were Sophie Damy for her Satellite-Based Optimisation of the European Freight Transport Network, and Yuuki Peters for his Terra Recovery Project, turning yesterday’s waste into tomorrow’s products. Former astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy, along with representatives of the EISC Presidency trio (Belgium, France, and Spain), presented the winners with their prizes.
The Plenary session was concluded on the second day after the discussion and adoption of the resolution in a closed session by the parliamentarians representing the EISC member states. It was also noted that the presidency for 2015 would be held by Spain.