The first European space policy encompassing European Union and European Space Agency activity was sent to the EU's Parliament and Council last week to be endorsed at the fourth EU-ESA space council on 22 May.
The policy describes space as a strategic asset necessary for Europe to "exert global leadership" in agreed policy areas.
The major EU/ESA projects under the policy's envisaged space programme are the Galileo satellite navigation system and the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) project.
Combining ESA space science and exploration work and EU Seventh Framework space-related research spending, the activities included in the policy have a total cost, from 2007 to 2013, of more than €25 billion ($34 billion).
EUMETSAT, the European meteorological service, is also involved, in particular in GMES, and its budgets add a few more million euros to the overall programme between now and 2013.
"We want to co-ordinate activities by ESA, national programmes and the likes of EUMETSAT. If we are to spend far less than the USA we must really co-ordinate to get the best value," says the European Commission.The USA spends at least four times as much on civilian space as the combined total of EU, ESA and national civil space budgets.
European Commission officials expect the new policy to aid the creation of structures for co-ordination and co-operation, while future versions will develop Europe's space activities.
The space policy was created by a joint ESA/EC secretariat set up by a 2003 framework agreement. The secretariat met member states through the High Level Space Policy Group.