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In 1999, MPs from France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom decided that time had come to get together in support of a European Space Policy. This initiative was well received and lead in 2000 to the joining of MPs from Belgium and Spain creating a strong cluster of MPs from the main European space countries.

Between 1999 and 2004, this European Interparliamentary Space Conference (EISC) took shape and gained momentum, succeeding in contributing actively to the definition of a European Space Policy. Initiatives taken by the national delegations and conferences organised by the EISC, added to the current success of projects as Galileo, Ariane and GMES.

At the same time, several members were able to mobilise, in co-operation with their colleagues from other national parliaments, their own national governments around a true European space project.

In 2005, a new step forward in the development of the EISC was taken, and it was noted that this co-operation framework was followed very closely in Europe and the world.

This year, following a first Belgian presidency in 2001, it is up to the Belgian Senate to further turn the EISC into a lasting success. The Belgian ambitions are high and concern the enlargement of the EISC with other member states of ESA and the EU, the deepening of relations between the EISC and other European interparliamentary assemblies (European Parliament, WEU Assembly...), the European Commission and ESA, and the intensifying of the proceedings, to name but a few. The Belgian Presidency also has the intention to emphasise on the importance of a real European solidarity in the space field, moreover since echoes of its renationalisation appear here and there.

During the EISC 2006, emphasis will be lead on the following items:

  • Space law and new developments in this field,
  • Relationship between space, defence and security, and the maintaining of a true European competence in the launcher field,
  • Principle of geographical return and its consequences for the co-operation between ESA and the European Commission,
  • Importance of Space for education and of education for Space,
  • Further development of a coherent European space policy.

Some say that Space is an economic debate that has to be considered on a pure mathematical basis. The Belgian presidency however wants to go beyond that idea: Space is a means for humanity to discover and explore new horizons and to realise the dreams and ambitions of us all. In this respect, it is illustrative to conclude with the words of a famous countryman:

“À force de croire en ses rêves, l’Homme en fait une réalité” (Hergé)


François Roelants du Vivier

Chairman of the European Interparliamentary Space Conference



Tim De Bondt, Secretary of the 8th E.I.S.C.

(c) ESA