Home   ›   News   ›   Will Space Sit in the European Parliament? Key Report Takeaways

Will Space Sit in the European Parliament? Key Report Takeaways

The European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) has just released its report Will Space Sit at the European Parliament?

With the next European Parliament (EP) elections taking place in June 2024, this report aims to provide an insight into the role played by space-related matters within the EU’s political debate. Overall, over 250 party manifestos, both from 2019 and 2024 and 60k tweets by MEPs have been analysed.

This report, unlike most discussions on European space policy, is not exploring capability development or targeted space policy documents.  Instead, it develops an outside-in approach, exploring how political parties and individual MEP candidates perceive, frame, and leverage space in their election campaigns and general discourse.

An infographic of the Key Takeaways can be found here.

The study is available on our website, here. In addition to the report, four Key Takeaways can be found below:

1. Space Has Seen a Notable Surge in Attention by Party Actors

Space has experienced a significant rise in interest by political actors, evidenced by a 41% increase in space-related references in party manifestos since 2019, with the number of mentions rising from 59 to 83. Furthermore, as new technologies and innovations play a crucial role in shaping Europe’s future competitiveness and prosperity, space is now the third most prioritized technology domain among political parties, following AI/ML and batteries.

Additionally, political actors are increasingly referencing specific capabilities and entities in the space domain, particularly navigation applications like GPS and Galileo, and the European Space Agency (ESA). The growing mention of ESA highlights its value as an intergovernmental setup recognized by national parties in EU member states.

2. Space is More Widely Recognised Across the Political Spectrum

In 2024, space mentions are more evenly distributed across the political spectrum, with a notable increase in mentions by right-leaning groups. This indicates a broader recognition of space and of its importance.

What’s more, the dispersion of space mentions is more widely scattered across various political parties, rather than being concentrated within a few, underscoring a collective acknowledgement of the critical role space will play in Europe’s future competitiveness, security and defence, and the green transition. Although the concentration remains high, the distribution across parties is more balanced. In 2019, the top 5 parties accounted for 63% of mentions, while in 2024, only 42% of mentions came from these parties.

3. Significant Shift in the Framing of Space

More than ever political parties now address space as an element of Europe’s economy, security, and innovation, rather than a technological domain in isolation. This indicates that space policy is now intertwined with broader strategic goals and should be addressed through a political lens, embedding space policy within high-level national and European political discourse. Space increasingly is seen as an enabler of many policy sectors. Especially in Security & Defence but also in other areas that are closer to the everyday lives of European citizens.

The security and defence utility of space is recognised more widely, seeing the highest uptick in 2024 compared to 2019, with references now spanning the entire political spectrum. Moreover, while references to security and defence aspects of space were often negative in 2019, the narrative has shifted with the nexus being presented largely positive. The opportunity to highlight exploration and science more prominently was avoided (with notable exceptions), likely due to crises-driven narratives of contemporary political discourse, with little appetite to propose an opportunity-driven counterpoise.

4. Space Discourse on Social Media Remains Limited

Space plays a limited role in social media discussions leading up to the elections, concentrated among a few accounts and countries. Fewer than 100 tweets mentioned space, from less than 10% of all MEPs, with France and Germany accounting for 50% of all space mentions. Space as an Asset is the most frequently discussed topic, present in approximately 50% of all tweets, albeit the analysis also coincided with the delay of the EU Space Law. Although Industry, Innovation, Finance & Workforce as well as Exploration & Science are the least mentioned topics in tweets, they capture the most attention regarding key engagement metrics.

The broader recognition of space issues and its impact across the political spectrum is a positive development, signalling a maturing understanding of space's pivotal role in Europe's future by political actors. However, 80% of parties still do not mention space in their manifestos, indicating a substantial opportunity for growth in recognizing space and its effect on our societies.

Lars Petzold Research Fellow

Quick contact

Whether you’re curious about our activities, membership, or even press—we’re ready to answer any and all questions.

"*" indicates required fields

Related articles

Stay connected with us

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news and updates.

"*" indicates required fields

Join our newsletter to receive the latest news and updates

"*" indicates required fields