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New Chair and Five Members Join ESPI Advisory Council

The Advisory Council is one of the two core governing bodies of the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI), next to the General Assembly of members. ESPI’s Advisory Council is made up of experts from across Europe’s space sector, and has a mandate to provide ESPI with medium-term orientations with respect to the activities of the Institute. 


As of 2024, the composition of ESPI’s Advisory Council has evolved, reflecting the growing reach of ESPI within the European space ecosystem. We are delighted to welcome a new Chair of ESPI Advisory Council and five new members, each bringing a unique perspective to the group:

  • (Chair) Etienne Schneider, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg;
  • Magali Vaissière, President of the IRT Saint Exupéry and Member of the Ministerial Space Steering Committee of France 2030;
  • Walther Pelzer, Director General of the German Space Agency at DLR.
  • Peggy Hollinger, International Business Editor at the Financial Times;
  • Lord David Willetts, Chair of the UK Space Agency and former UK Minister for Universities and Science; and
  • Maj. Gen. (ret.) Michel Friedling, Former French Space Commander.

I am most honoured to take on the responsibility of the Chair of ESPI’s Advisory Council, in particular in a period of such major transformation for ESPI. A vision of a strong Europe as a partner to the world, as presented by ESPI in the policy vision for Europe “ESPI2040: Space for Prosperity, Peace, and Future Generations”, resonates more than ever, in the wake of the growing security & defence dimension of space activities and wider benefits space brings to  society and the economy. Leveraging its diversity and high-profile ensemble of experts, ESPI’s Advisory Council will continue to advise ESPI in its work and through this contribute to the growth of Europe’s space sector and the role of space in European society, economy and security. 

Etienne Schneider, Chair of ESPI Advisory Council and Former Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg.

The evolution of our Advisory Council in 2024 is also marked by several departures. We thank all our outgoing Advisory Council members, in particular the previous Chair, for their long-term support over the previous years: 

  • Geneviève FIoraso (Chair 2017 – 2023), Former French Minister of Higher Education and Science; 
  • Dominique Tilmans, President of EURISY & Former Member of the Belgian Parliament; 
  • Max Kowatsch, Former Managing Director Beyond Gravity Austria; 
  • Gerd Gruppe, Former Member of DLR Executive Board; 
  • Sergio Marchisio, Full Professor of International Law at Sapienza University; 
  • Stefania Giannini, Assistant DG for Education at UNESCO and former Italian Minister for Education, Universities and Research. 

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