30 July 2010. Issue 36 of the "ESPI Perspectives" series examines the past, present and future of transatlantic cooperation in space activities, under the light of the new focus on international cooperation expressed in both the new US policy and the EU Lisbon treaty.
From a historical perspective, the cooperation between Europe and the United States in the field of international relations has been one of the key elements for promoting security, stability and prosperity on a global scale. Although the transatlantic partnership has witnessed a few ups and downs during its history, it has never lost its significance, in spite of some pessimistic views that foresaw its demise after the end of the Cold War. Indeed, transatlantic cooperation has perhaps changed in nature and scope over the last twenty years in order to address new challenges such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation, organised crime or climate change, but it has never lost its importance. Especially today, transatlantic ties can potentially become even stronger, thanks to two parallel developments: the preference demonstrated by the Obama Administration to international cooperation instead of unilateral action on the one hand, and the new legal personality vested in the European foreign policy with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty on the other. In the field of space activities in particular, the Lisbon treaty creates an even greater potential for cooperation with the US than before. With the formulation of a European Union space policy, Europe has declared international cooperation as one of its key objectives and it has increased the potential for a transatlantic partnership in space to include not only the already well established NASA-ESA cooperation, but also the EU flagship programmes of Galileo and GMES, with special attention to the increasingly important field of space security. In conclusion, as the depth and scope of the European space activities increase, the benefits of transatlantic cooperation in areas such as space debris mitigation or space traffic management increase proportionally as well, creating at the same time the foundations for a broader international cooperation in space, on a global level.
This “ESPI Perspective” is based on an address by the author at the workshop on “Transatlantic Space Cooperation” co-organised by the Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies of the U.S. Air Force Academy and ESPI in Vienna on 24 June 2010.
The author of the "ESPI Perspective" Amb. Peter Jankowitsch (centre)
Amb. Peter Jankowitsch has been Foreign Minister of Austria and long-time Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS). Currently he is, amongst other functions, member of the Advisory Council of ESPI.