Switzerland and Luxembourg submit joint candidature to co-chair ESA Council at ministerial level for 2012-2015
Bern, 07.12.2011 - The Federal Council has decided that Switzerland and Luxembourg will submit a joint candidature to co-chair the ESA Council at ministerial level for the period 2012-2015. In so doing, Switzerland underscores its commitment to European independence in space. The joint candidature with Luxembourg will also strengthen ties between the two countries far beyond space affairs.
Although Switzerland is a founding member of the ESA, it has never chaired the ESA Council at ministerial level. Switzerland and Luxembourg have now agreed to submit a joint candidature to co-chair the ESA Council at ministerial level for the period 2012-2015. Co-chairmanship would enable both countries to combine their respective strengths: Switzerland's many years of experience working with the ESA and Luxembourg's knowledge of internal EU processes. Initial discussions along this line took place between Luxembourg's Minister for Higher Education and Research, François Biltgen, Switzerland's State Secretary for Education and Research, Mauro Dell'Ambrogio, and ESA Director-General, Jean-Jacques Dordain in the margins of the 8th European Space Council Meeting in Brussels on 6 December.
The period 2012-2015 will be a decisive one for European space activities, since relations between the ESA, the EU and national space agencies will need to be clarified on the basis of the EU's financial prospects for 2014-2020.
Every three to four years, the ESA Council meets at ministerial level to decide whether new programmes should be launched and existing ones continued. The last ESA Council meeting at ministerial level was held in The Hague in November 2008. Italy currently holds chairmanship, which means that Italy will be hosting the next ESA Council meeting at ministerial level, which is scheduled to take place in November 2012.
Intergovernmental cooperation within the ESA has enabled Europe to gain independent access to space. It has also gradually brought greater freedom of action in the area of space science, technologies and services (e.g. meteorology, telecommunications and navigation).
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