The Polish parliament (Sejm) ratified on the 24th of October the ESA membership agreement. The voting was held unanimously with 434 Parliament members voting for the document. This is a rare sight in very divided Polish politics.
With this milestone behind, there are no more obstacles in the official start of the Polish ESA membership in January 1st 2013. There was much pressure on the politicians to ratify the agreement as soon as possible, so that Poland would take part in the ESA Ministerial Council (20th – 21st of November, Naples). The Council will decide the nearest plans for the Agency, including a new launcher, the Automatic Transfer Vehicle (ATV) spacecraft follow-on or general rules of cooperation between the countries and within the Agency.
With the documents ratified, Poland intends to take a more active role during this event. The accession documents were earlier signed on the 13th of September in Warsaw by ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and the Polish minister of Economy Waldemar Pawlak. Accession negotiations were finished early 2012 and later faced a stall, since the Polish Ministry of Finance did not agree to ESA membership seeing it as an “unnecessary expense”. Yet with a lot of follow-on lobbying on the political and public side the government decided nevertheless to join the Agency.
Poland will pay annual membership fee of about 35 million EUR. This is a relatively high budget, which indicates that the Polish space activities will not be minor.