From Venus to Mars

The European Union's steps towards the militarisation of space
21 November 2008

This paper examines the emergence of a European military space policy in the context of an international contest to dominate the ‘high ground’ of space. Raising concerns about the potential for an arms race, the paper looks at the creeping militarisation of space, and the increasing overlap between civilian and military space applications.

  • 1871-3408

The paper examines the activities of the European Space Agency in the implementation of EU space policy, looking at key projects such as the EU Satellite Centre, Galileo and Kopernikus. It points to the ESAs growing interest and involvement in the use of space-based technologies in “EU security”.

In situating European space policy in the broader EU defence policy debate, the paper raises questions about how policy is formulated, and the role of business lobbies, EU officials and ordinary citizens. It notes the enhanced prominence of space policy in the Lisbon Treaty, and the efforts to galvanise the space sector during the French presidency of the EU. The paper also argues that the formulation of space policy in Eu- rope could contribute to reinforcing and extending the Outer Space Treaty under UN auspices.

While highlighting the role played so far by business lobbies, the paper points to the need for a wider-ranging and more criti- cal debate on space policy as a part of the broader EU security and defence policy.