An action has just been initiated to convince the Polish government to join the European Space Agency. The situation is serious – the Ministry of Finance is blocking the accession acceptance to the Agency!
In the first quarter of 2012, the technical part of accession negotiations between Poland and the European Space Agency (ESA) ended with success. Now, the decision is up to the Polish government. The situation is changing into a critical one, as the accession agreement has to be signed soon to allow Poland to actively participate in this year’s ministerial council. This event will take place in November 2012.
From available sources, it seems that all government ministries, with the exception of Ministry of Finance, accepted the idea of Poland’s joining the ESA.The only veto is from the Ministry of Finance, which was known since the beginning of negotiations. The Ministry of Finance is against Poland joining ESA, viewing it as a too high and probably irrelevant expenditure.
A few weeks ago, a group was created, which tries to convince decision makers that joining ESA is a good decision. Representatives of Kosmonauta.net also participate in the work of this group. The most important arguments, which are being presented are as follow:
– The technological argument. The Europeans Space Agency supports the development of technologies, which are important to Europe and their transfer to and from the space sector (e.g. into medicine). In addition, the scientific programs, human spaceflight and satellite projects are realised as well. Poland, which cooperates with ESA in the PECS project, has a significantly limited access to the Agency’s know-how and support. In result, this situation limits Polish chances to create its own advanced technologies, products or services. In is one of the EU goals), then Poland might one day need to buy them, as no local counterparts will be available. Examples of such projects are related to Earth Observation, telecommunications (also for security applications) or navigational services. This means that the total Polish losses in this case will be higher than 495 million EUR.
– The political argument. This year’s ministerial council is going to be a very important one, as some important projects await funding, approval or modifications. Some of the decisions might be valid for the next dozen years, not only until the next ministerial council. They will be related to the International Space Station, the follow-on to the ATV program, the successor to the Ariane 5 rocket or basic rules of project funding. It is important to note here that the Czech Republic and Romania are already ESA members and will very likely they try to negotiate satisfactory terms of cooperation during this council. If Poland does not join ESA this year, it might find itself in a less comfortable situation and will have to accept decisions made during the council debates.
– The “future” argument. No-one knows what will will happen to Polish-ESA relations if Poland decides not to join the Agency. The next PECS program seems to be unrealistic and might also have some negative impact on the local space industry. Even worse would be a total lack of relations with ESA. Such a situation would be unique for Poland, as all other countries are right now intensifying the cooperation with ESA. In opinion of several analysts, this situation might turn Poland from a “second category” one into the only one of the lowest, the “third category”. At the same time, Poland will not be able to ignore satellite technologies, related to GMES and Galileo, so will have to purchase services and products from other EU countries.
Several different and independent of each other groups, like academia, scientific, industrial and business ones plan to send their letters to the government. Among them, there are even groups from outside Poland. These groups are trying to point out that accession to ESA is a historic chance for Poland to modernise the country and focus on innovation. Moreover, the accession to ESA should result in new jobs, a new market and better competitiveness of Polish economy and also lower dependence on foreign products.
The website, where one can add his or her support is http://polskawesa.pl/podpisz-petycje/