Europe is not yet ready for Star Wars, but it is beginning to prepare for it. On Friday 10 March, the European Union (EU) published its very first “space strategy for defense and security”. While the United States, China, Russia and, since 2019, France have such a strategy and space command, the European Union is not really there yet. It manages many civilian space programs, whether Galileo, the European geolocation system, or Copernicus, a constellation of observation satellites, but it has always refused to develop applications of these defense tools. For a long time, these issues were the sole responsibility of sovereign states.
Things change. During the French presidency of the EU, at the beginning of 2022, Paris had pushed for the Twenty-Seven to adopt a common space strategy for defense. And on Friday, the Commission and the European External Action Service unveiled it, almost on the sly. And yet, notes Olivier Lemaitre, secretary general of Eurospace, the space lobby, the publication of this twenty-page text is a real event: “It’s even a miracle, we’ve been waiting for this strategy for twenty years! »
“The European Parliament was waiting for it with firm footing, confirms Christophe Grudler, Renew MEP, specialist in this sector. Europe is finally emerging from naivety on these subjects. » While a small number of countries, including France, Germany, Italy and Spain, are very committed to space issues, “one of the feats of this text is to have put the Twenty-Seven at the same level of understanding of threats in space”notes General Michel Friedling, one of the authors of the French space defense strategy, published in 2019.
« Che text will give credibility to the Twenty-Seven in this field of operations”, confirms Béatrice Hainaut, researcher in Paris at the Institute for Strategic Research at the Military School (Irsem). For fifteen years, space has been considered as a zone of conflict like any other. In November 2021, Russia thus destroyed one of its old satellites to demonstrate its capabilities, and the debris, disseminated in space by this action, threatened many satellites and even the International Space Station.
“Apart from this destruction, the threats in space are of all kindsrecalls a specialist in the sector. There is also spying on satellites or more hostile actions such as circling around a satellite to block all communication… Some players, and in particular China, have also shown that they know how to seize a satellite and eject from an orbit. For Europe, detecting these activities becomes necessary. »
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