The space sector and in particular satellite communications (SatCom) are increasingly critical for EU’s security, prosperity and competitiveness. SatCom have become essential elements for defence, security, humanitarian and emergency response and diplomatic communications. They are a key enabler for civil and military missions/operations, both at national and EU level when supporting the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Satellite connectivity is one of the best and most reliable ways to establish communication links for the complete set of new and evolving IT services, no matter where they may be required, including in remote and austere environments with little or no infrastructure. The importance of access to Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) capabilities which present particularly resilient and robust security traits, has been recognized in multiple EU high level documents including the European Commission (EC) Space Strategy for Europe and the European Defence Action Plan in 2016, as well as the EC draft Space regulation in 2018 in which a GOVSATCOM component is proposed as part of the future EU space programme. In this context, the EDA together with contributing Members developed the EDA GOVSATCOM Pooling and Sharing Demonstration project (GSC Demo).
- Provide EDA Member States and European CSDP actors with access to a reliable, secure and cost-effective GOVSATCOM capability based on existing, pooled, governmental SATCOM resources provided by EDA Member States
- Demonstrate the benefits of a Pooling and Sharing collaborative model
In developing this capability project, EDA deployed a sequential approach: The initial satellite communication operational needs for European civil and military actors involved in the conduct of national and CSDP operations/missions were gathered by EDA in the Common Staff Target document and endorsed by the EDA Steering Board in November 2014. With the support of a feasibility study, EDA developed the Common Staff Requirements document and associated Business Case, detailing the GOVSATCOM requirements and proposing the way ahead to meet those requirements, which were approved at the EDA Steering Board in March 2017. Following this approval, EDA, together with contributing Member States, developed from June 2017 onwards the EDA GOVSATCOM Pooling and Sharing demonstration project which entered its execution phase in January 2019 with the first meeting of the Project Arrangement Management Group (PAMG).
Hence, in full coherence with the revised 2018 EDA Capability Development Plan and the therein defined EU Capability Development Priorities, the project currently provides reliable, secure and cost-effective GOVSATCOM services based on existing, pooled, governmental SatCom resources provided by contributing Member States for EDA Member States and European CSDP actors managing critical security missions and operations.
The project is aligned with and evolves alongside European stakeholders’ projects, especially the EC’s EU GOVSATCOM project as part of the new EU Space programme and ESA’s new ARTES Strategic Programme Line dedicated to “Space Systems for Safety and Security (4S)”. It also complements EDA’s EU Satcom Market project, already in place since 2012, which efficiently and cost-effectively provides Contributing Members with an option to commercially source SatCom as well as wider Communication and Information Systems (CIS) services through EDA.
The extension of the duration ofthe EDA GOVSATCOM project for three more years (until 2023, the original duration was set until early 2021) is currently being prepared. Work is also being undertaken to enhance the portfolio of GOVSATCOM services to better respond to the contributing Members’ needs and expectations. EDA also expects to develop options on how the EDA GOVSATCOM project can be further aligned with the EU GOVSATCOM initiative. The Agency further supports its MS in the preparation of the EU GOVSATCOM project by taking part in collaborative initiatives such as the ENTRUSTED Coordination and Support Action funded under Horizon 2020 and launched in September 2020 where a consortium of EU Member States and EU Agencies is aiming at establishing a network of governmental users and agreeing upon common user needs and requirements for secure SatCom systems and services.