EU denies ‘power grab’ on European Space Agency

Plans to create EU Agency for the Space will not encroach on ESA activities, European Commission says

The European Commission has denied it is set on creating a rival to the European Space Agency (ESA), reacting strongly to claims made by Jan Wörner, ESA’s director general, who said the EU 2021 – 2027 plan for space research amount to a blueprint for a duplicate body that will, “take decades and cost billions”.

The Commission outlined the plan for a beefed-up space research programme as part of a budget presentation in which it proposed raising the space budget to €16 billion between 2021 and 2027, an increase of about €5 billion on the present period.

But the most controversial part of the proposal, which will need to go through the European Parliament and member states to get approval, involves creating an “EU Agency for the Space Programme”.

ESA gets the majority of its funding from the EU, but it is not an EU agency and is independent of Brussels. Industry commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska said the proposed new agency would not take responsibilities away from ESA. “There is definitely no transfer of competence from ESA to the new agency,” she said. “All the institutions need [each other].”

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