Summary of the European Space Cooperation Conference
di Bence Kertész
Student of Mathias Corvinus Collegium School of International Relations
Research Fellow at Università degli Studi Link Roma
Tempo di lettura 7'
It was a great pleasure that various experts and representatives both from the public and private sectors could honour the conference with their participation, enabling for the first time that Hungarian and Italian actors could share their experiences and knowledge directly.
The conference was opened with the institutional greetings, as the Hungarian and Italian representatives from the governmental and academic levels acclaimed the initiative. As a message of the Italian Government, first came the greeting speech of Dr. Emilio Scalfarotto, which was followed by the speech of Dr. László Galántai, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Hungary Rome, representing Hungary. After that came the greetings of the academic representatives, who played the central role in creating the event. Prof. Michele Pigliucci represented Link University, and Mr. Bence Kertész represented Mathias Corvinus Collegium, signing the beginning of the fruitful cooperation of this new academic partnership.
The first panel of the conference examined the role of space cooperation in the process of European integration, as the event had guests in this section from the Hungarian space sector (Dr. István Arnócz, the Secretary General of the Hungarian Astronautical Society, and Prof. Krisztián Manzinger, the professor of Károli Gáspár University), the Italian space sector (Ing. Danielo Rubini, the representative of Italian Space Agency), and from the European Union (Dr. Ugo Celestino, the Policy Officer of Directorate General for Defence Industries and Space of the European Commission). The panel was moderated by Dr. Matteo Mostarda, in the representation of Link University.
At first, Ing. Rubini created an introduction of the conference, as he presented the space activity and capacities of Italy in detail, analysing the possibilities of the Hungarian-Italian cooperation at the same time. As it was emphasised by him, theMemorandum of Understanding opened a door for cooperation, however, this framework should be filled with the initiatives of the partners. The role of the European Union in space research is largely similar to that, as both Prof. Manzinger and Dr. Celestino have highlighted the limits of the EU. In opposition to the institutional limits, this organisation can unite all European space actors for cooperation, which is a crucial need of space research in consequence of the high-level financial and technological conditions, which can be provided through international collaboration. The importance of this coordination is increasing as the new space race unfolds globally. As it was pointed out at the conference, space cooperation is a central element for Europe to be a decisive actor in this competition, as it can only be a global player through the coordination of resources and aims. In this sharpening situation, it is also fundamental to provide the European strategic autonomy with its own space infrastructure, for which the reference was brought as the example of the Galileo navigation system, being the European alternative of GPS, making the positioning and navigation sector (being crucial for the European security) independent. The framework of the EU is an ecosystem for the space sector entrepreneurship at the same time, which creates the possibility of cooperation not just at the governmental level, but between the actors of the private sector. Dr. Arnócz has described in detail how Hungary connects to this field, and how the Hungarian space corporations (can) contribute to the cooperation with Italy and on European level.
In the next panel, the focus was on space economy and security, having experts from these fields as guests from both countries. The members of the panel from the side of Italy were Prof. Ezio Bussoletti (being the Institutional Space Advisor and Committee of Coordination at Masters of Space Economy at Luis Business School), Prof. Maurizio Melani and Gen. Paolo Poletti (in the representation of the Link University, while Dr. András Edl (who is a Space Defence and Security Advisor at the Institute of Space Law and Policy at University of Public Service) was a speaker from the side of Hungary. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Federico Bonarota, in the representation of Link University.
The security aspects of space became more relevant than ever before, as the war in Ukraine clearly showed the influence of space technology on warfare and geopolitics. As Prof. Melani underlined, in the current situation, the importance of the autonomy of Europe in space sector is increasing, emphasising again the role of cooperation as a way of achieving this. According to the professor, the core element of this process should be the subsidiarity (as being also a trait of the EU), through which the resource-sharing can be effective, being built on the small interstate blocks of cooperation (such as the Hungarian-Italian bilateral cooperation). Dr. Edl also highlighted the role of EU in supporting development and creating the framework for common (space) security policy. He also raised attention over the upcoming tendencies and challenges of space security. As many new technologies are emerging and the size of the space infrastructure grows, an inevitable point of singularity of Earth observation will occur, when these observation capacities will have a constant global coverage, and this will drastically form warfare and national security as almost everything will become trackable. On the other hand, the opposite direction of observation will also get significance, as Europe works on an own space situational awareness system, being core element for detecting and tackling threats coming from space. In accordance with these tendencies, Gen. Poletti emphasised the importance of space domain, as through the relevant systems it becomes a critical infrastructure. Its state is decisive in many security aspects- such as the security of supply chains- meanwhile this domain is intertwined with cyber-space as well, creating an interdependency. The professor also pointed out the problem of dual-use technologies and information warfare, being the current issues of these domains. Prof. Bussoletti added other aspects of space security to the discussion, such as the current status of the forming space law and the emerging role of private space actors. He also analysed the evolving global space race, making a comparison between the decisive actors in it. Showing the dynamism of Chinese space development, the potential of US space industry, he raised attention over the current state of European space research, identifying the challenges of it in the limits of administration, the internal competition and differentiated representation of members outside the continent. It was also underlined by Dr. Bonarota, that the competition is also made harder for Europe by the difference of capacities, as these actors have different financial background and budgets. To solve the problem of this discrepancy, Dr. Edl added the important perspective of the quality of the finance of development in contrast to the quantity, as beyond the size of financial support, it is also decisive to define the proper way and target of these processes. By properly selecting the aim of investments (such as latest innovative technologies), Europe can overcome its financial limits with technological and scientific advantages. In accordance with this, Dr. Arnócz highlighted the importance of effective incubation and related support as crucial element for developing space innovations. As a concluding element of the conference, Dr. Celestino highlighted again the importance of European space cooperation, as it is the way not only for tackling challenges in unity, but for a beneficial common development.
As it is clearly visible from the results of the discussion, the European Space Conference successfully achieved its aim by providing opportunity for discussion about space research and cooperation not just at European, but for the first time, at the Hungarian-Italian bilateral level as well, by involving many professional experts and representatives from the space sector of Italy and Hungary, and from one of the most important European space cooperation framework, the European Union. The event was a proof for the possibilities and potent of dialogue between these actors, being the first step for closer cooperation in the light of current challenges. During the conference, the importance of the European space cooperation was reinforced, to which the newly forming Hungarian-Italian space cooperation can contribute not just at governmental but at economic and academic level. This collaboration is indispensable for Europe to be an autonomous actor in the global space competition, and to create its own, independent strategic space capacities, gaining an increasing importance in the overall security of Europe. Even though, European space sector has many limits, and it can be easily divided alongside national interests, by creating these bilateral links, common development can be achievable, being beneficial not only for the space sector, but for the overall national welfare and the relations between these nations.
By being the first step, this conference was aimed to contribute to this development, for which now the academic basis was created through the partnership of Link University and Mathias Corvinus Collegium. By thanking for all contributions of the partners, in this way the hope is expressed for continuing and intensifying the new space cooperation between Hungary and Italy.