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Quel avenir pour l’Europe dans l’espace ? l’interview de Jan Wöerner, DG de l’ESA

Written by on 3 mars 2020

En novembre dernier, les 22 États membres de l’ESA se sont quittés sur une bonne nouvelle ! Après deux ans de négociations, les ministres européens ont accordé 14,39 Md€ de budget à l’Agence Spatiale Européenne.

Mais quels sont désormais les défis de l’agence, les missions marquantes à venir ? Et surtout, dans quel contexte concurrentiel aborde-t-elle les années à venir ?

Autant de questions que nous avons pu poser à Johann-Dietrich Wörner, le directeur général de l’ESA depuis le 1er juillet 2015, lors d’une interview qui s’est tenue à Paris il y a quelques jours.


It’s right that at Space 19+, the ministerial conference of ESA, we got a record subscription of fourteen point five billion euros, and we also have a record in the yearly budget of 2020, which is something like $6.7 billion euros. So that means we are in very good times concerning money. And not only that, we are also in a very good situation because member states, and ministers of the member states, in their interventions in Seville, very clearly indicated their view of the beauty of ESA and the beauty of ESA is number one.

Of course, the so-called Geo Return. That means if a member state pays for money to ESA, they can get it back, partially. Mainly back for projects and activities in their home country. Number two, it is that they have a direct influence in what we are doing, through our boards and council. And there is another aspect, which I think makes their member states very happy, that even smaller member states can participate in big missions, because normally they would have no access.

I mean, France, Germany and Italy, they would be able also to make big missions alone. But what about Estonia, or Portugal, or other countries. Through ESA they are part also of the big ESA Family, and that means that also Estonian parts, Portuguese parts, or Greek parts are flying in big missions, and that makes them of course happy.

So we asked the European citizen how much money would you like to give for space? So no how much money do you think you have to give, but how much money would you like to give? And the interesting answer was they said two hundred and seventy eight euros per year per citizen in average. End the programme which was subscribed last year from the ministers is about eight euros per citizen and year. And that means obviously we are doing a good job for the citizens because they believed that they were even ready to pay more.

Now what we have, especially with this jury turn. I have to explain. So if the member state is subscribing a certain project, there was some amount of money, then they get back into their country, 80 per cent of that, about 80 per cent because 20 percent or 85 percent of the other 15 to 20 percent. This is remaining in ESA for development and research, which we are using to prepare this mission.

That means that all money which we get from the member states is problematic money. It’s not that we get a big amount of money and then we can do something. But each and every euro is part of a bigger game of different programmes and projects which are decided and also in-between steered and controlled by the member states.

Retrouvez l’ensemble de cet échange dans notre podcast audio.


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