Ljubljana – The Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU co-hosted a virtual conference on Wednesday discussing the secure connectivity initiative, the third pillar of the EU space programme. European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton described space and the initiative as one of the European Commission’s priorities in 2022.
The initiative addresses the need for safe and resilient global connectivity based on space technologies, a need that has been increasing along with the growing digitalisation of the economy and society and the increasing geopolitical cyber threats, said the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, which organised the event in conjunction with the European Commission.
In his address to the conference, Minister Zdravko Počivalšek called for a harmonised approach to secure connectivity between EU member states where the European Space Agency is seen as an important partner. “The EU member states must reach an agreement on the sustainable funding of the programme,” he said.
“Europe must not be left behind. This is why space and the secure connectivity initiative will be a priority of the European Commission in 2022,” Commissioner Breton, who is in charge of defence industry and space, was quoted as saying in the press release.
The initiative is the third pillar of the EU Space programme, alongside Copernicus and Galileo. It is important for businesses, public authorities and the general public in that it aims to better protect them against cyber- and hybrid threats, and to harness the technological potential of the digital and space industries in the EU and member states.
The initiative is also seen as a major business opportunity for small and medium-sized businesses, the release says, adding that SMEs have been a priority of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU.
The initiative aims to put in place a reliable, cost-efficient and exceptionally safe connectivity for the benefit of government and commercial communications, critical infrastructure, crisis management, maritime and air space in Europe, Africa and the Arctic and provide high-speed broadband across the EU for a well-functioning single market.
The panel discussion heard participants underscore the need to increase investment, strengthen cooperation between key players and lay down relevant rules in order to make the European space sector more competitive. The goal should be providing quality and safe services to the public.
In his closing remarks, MEP Niklas Nienass welcomed that EU policy is changing and prioritising space. “Space investments, both public and private, need to be stepped up both at EU level and in the EU member states. Space represents an important business opportunity for SMEs, which is also an area the EU is focusing on,” Nienass said.
The funding for the secure connectivity initiative, which is expected to amount to around EUR 6 billion, will come from the EU budget and from EU member states through national recovery plans and budgets, and from the private sector in the form of public-private partnerships, reads the press release from the ministry.