Ljubljana – Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek signed on Monday a set of amendments to Slovenia’s association agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA), which he said meant an important step towards full-fledged membership. The minister expects cooperation with ESA will deepen further.
Slovenia has been an associate member of ESA since 2016 and so far 11 Slovenian companies have signed cooperation contracts with ESA on the basis of the association agreement. The contracts are worth EUR 7 million in total, Počivalšek said, expressing his expectation these figures will increase soon.
“There are presently 40 companies in Slovenia dealing with high-tech and a few institutions that are very interested in Slovenia’s ESA membership,” he added.
Cooperation with ESA boosts companies’ references, international profile and the chance to secure long-term partnerships. Today’s agreement further expands the list of activities accessible to Slovenian companies, the minister explained.
Počivalšek noted that the field of space is much wider that many imagine and also involves companies researching new materials, logistic companies, healthcare companies, AI, telecommunication and other breakthrough technologies. He highlighted the recent launch of the first Slovenian satellites as a major breakthrough.
ESA has 22 member sates, while Canada, Latvia and Slovenia have associate membership status. Several more countries have signed a cooperation agreement, which is the first step toward accession.
Slovenia’s association member status expires in December 2021 and the country needs to decide a year before that on future cooperation.
One option is full membership as soon as the existing agreement expires and another the signing of an amended association agreement with a so called programme for new member states. Slovenia decided for the later option, with the goal being full membership in 2024.