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EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence

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Written by Christian Blanco

Edited by Clelia Vettori

Supervised by Emile Clarke

In recent years, the EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence has assumed paramount importance, driven by shifts in the geopolitical landscape and the imperative to update collective policy approaches. In this context, the enlargement of NATO and the ramifications of the Russo-Ukrainian war pose significant questions (Kolovos, A., 2023). More specifically, these geopolitical shifts underscore the urgent need for a unified defence system against potential common threats. This is an especially complicated task considering that the space domain presents nuanced challenges akin to those of the Arctic, where borders lack the tangible delineation seen in traditional realms of air, land, or maritime boundaries. In this sense, the new approach to space defence and security includes both military considerations and political and legal dimensions.

In this vein, two pivotal initiatives have recently been undertaken, promising a decisive impact on EU security and defence in the years ahead: the Strategic Compass, aimed at fortifying EU security and defence over the next decade, launched on 21 March 2022, and the Council Conclusions on the Strategy for Space Security and Defence of the European Union, adopted on 18 November 2023. These initiatives delineate current objectives, problems, and challenges in terms of EU space security and defence. Notably, the EU is committed to prioritising international cooperation and collaboration while fostering new dialogues on the subject (Fiott, D., 2021). A robust EU space policy not only enhances international peace and security but also safeguards the interests and values of the EU and its citizens.

The new strategy emphasises critical aspects, including: (i) the unification, orientation, and completion of a common strategic plan, wherein factors such as NATO membership or non-membership prompt renewed agreements on military space cooperation; (ii) the development of a legislative framework to adapt existing EU defence and security regulations in the space domain, recognising its relatively recent legislative landscape; (iii) a pivot towards addressing cybersecurity threats that endanger space systems and advancing diplomatic efforts in space; (iv) an enhancement in understanding space threats, exemplified by incidents such as the Viasat Cyberattack in April 2021 (KA-SAT), the proliferation of space debris, and the adverse effects of destructive tests involving direct ascent missiles. In this context, Russia and China emerge as primary potential threats to EU space security.


General Secretariat of the Council-Delegations. (2023, November 13). Council Conclusions on the EU Space Strategy for Security and Defense.  

Secretary-General of the European Commission-Secretary General of the Council of the European Union. (2023, March 10). Joint Communication European Parliament-Council on the European Union Space Strategy for Security and Defense.  

General Secreatariat of the Council-Delegations. (2022, March 21). A Strategic Compass for Security and Defence – For a European Union that Protects its Citizens, Interests and Values and Contributes to International Peace and Security.

Council of the European Union. (2021, April 9). The Position of the Council at First Reading with a View to the Adoption of a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Union Space Programme and the European Union Agency for the Space Programme and repealing Regulations (EU) No912/20210, (EU) No1285/2013 and (EU) No377/2014 and Decision No541/2014/EU.

Kolovos, A. (2023). Strengthening Links Between European Union and Defence: Adopting a Combined Approach. Space Policy, 63(1), 1-13.

Fiott, D. (2021). Securing the Heavens: How can Space Support the EU’s Strategic Compass? Vrije Universiteit Brussel: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1.

Facuher, P., Peldszus, R. (2020). Operational Space Surveillance and Tracking in Europe. Journal of Space Safety Engineering, 7(3), 420-425.

Gray, C. S. (2013). Strategy and Defence Planning: Meeting the Challenge. London: Taylor & Francis Group, 1-3.