The European Commission met with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Space Agency (ESA) in Luxembourg today to discuss investments and funding needs for a competitive European upstream space sector.

“Today’s meeting is important, because space-critical capabilities are the necessary engines for developing new disruptive technologies and entail multiple spill overs in many sectors. We need to ensure we allocate sufficient resources to research and development and space, so Europe can further drive innovation in areas such as advanced robotics, artificial intelligence and materials science. These investments will in turn not only benefit the space industry but also have a transformative impact on multiple sectors ensuring Europe’s autonomy,” said EIB Vice President Kris Peeters. “I am convinced that the increasing cooperation between the EIB, ESA and the Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space (DG DEFIS) is a critical step in this direction, as we must forge a joint path towards a thriving European space sector.”

Director General of DG DEFIS Timo Pesonen added: “We salute the increasing involvement of the EIB in space sector and welcome its willingness to support the expansion of debt financing for fast-growing New Space companies in Europe. Public institutions, in space and finance, ESA and the EIB have a key role to play alongside the European Commission in improving the competitiveness of the European space industry. The role of the EIB will add firepower to the Commission’s CASSINI Initiative in support of New Space.”

A clear commitment to the space sector is reflected in the EU policies and initiatives, from the EU Space Regulation to space strategy for security and defence and the EIB’s Strategic European Security Initiative (SESI). Several funding programmes and initiatives have already been put in place, notably Horizon Europe, the EIC Pathfinder/Transition and Accelerator, InvestEU and the CASSINI Space Entrepreneurship Initiative.

However, the EU space sector is facing competition from new, foreign players who have heavily increased their investment in space. To address this issue, the EIB, ESA and DG DEFIS are cooperating and working on different approaches to have an impact on the space sector over the next decade. Particular attention will be paid to the scale-up phase of New Space technologies, as the wide variety of instruments and schemes supporting upstream space companies are currently mainly focused on the earlier stages of development.

Reflecting on the day, ESA Director of Commercialisation, Industry and Competitiveness Géraldine Naja said: “Through this collaboration, and the new coordination agreement signed this year with DG DEFIS and EUSPA, we are building a joint understanding of market challenges and working together to foster a thriving and competitive European space industry. I am excited about this fruitful cooperation and the opportunity to shape the future of the sector.”

The three organisations will further discuss the current ecosystem and work together to address the challenges that companies in the space sector are currently facing.