A European legislator wants to strengthen space cooperation between the United States and the European Union

Europe is a major space power: its space industry recorded €74 billion in revenue in 2019, accounting for 15 to 20% of the global market, and employing 48,000 people. The NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), and the US Geological Survey are among the ESA’s primary partners in the US government. However, many legislators have felt that there is room for improvement.

A lawmaker of the European Parliament is visiting the United States to help strengthen space policy cooperation while also advocating a European space law. Niklas Nienass, a German member of the European Parliament, managed to meet with authorities in Washington this week, including at NOAA,  NASA, and the White House, before traveling to Denver and Houston, where he met with Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee, and toured the Johnson Space Center.

In an interview, he noted that as the European Union’s role in space policy rises, “the very first duty is to establish up excellent contacts and have someone to talk to.  While there is tight cooperation on space issues between European and American agencies, like the European Space Agency and NASA, he believes it is missing at a greater level between the United States and the European Union. “At the political level, there isn’t nearly as much coordination and collaboration.”

He attributes part of this to the several European players involved, including the European Space Agency, national space agencies, and the European Commission. “We definitely need to work on it so we can have a single, cohesive plan for all of this.”

He believes that more cooperation between the US and European Union is required on issues such as space traffic management and resource usage. He claims that American measures such as the Artemis Accords, which have been signed by several EU countries, are insufficient to solve those challenges. He has previously questioned the Artemis Accords’ provision promoting resource consumption, proposing instead for the Moon Agreement, which he claims will provide a more equitable resource sharing.

He clarified, “It doesn’t have to be the Moon Treaty.  However, I believe that a more comprehensive text is required, as the Artemis Accords are not really a treaty.”

According to him, such an international agreement might address concerns such as space traffic management (STM) and space resources. “There are a lot of areas in international relations where I believe we could go further and that we need to update anyway since the Outer Space Treaty is insufficient,” he stated. “The Artemis Accords are simply inappropriate for resolving the issue.”

In addition, Nienass is striving to improve European space policy. He is a key proponent of a unified European space law that would address a variety of concerns formerly addressed by a collection of national space regulations among EU states. He suggested that this would make it easier for European businesses to collaborate across borders. “I’d like to harmonize this so they can work together more effortlessly.”

The European Union’s space policy intends to address some of the world’s most serious issues, such as combating climate change, promoting technological innovation, and giving socioeconomic advantages to citizens. Europeans’ lives have become increasingly reliant on space technology, data, and services.

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