Joint Statement of France, Germany and Italy on the Future of Launcher Exploitation in Europe

At the occasion of the ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level held in Paris on 22-23 November 2022, and in view of Article 12 on space transportation and launcher exploitation proposed in the draft Council Resolution on ‘ESA Accelerating the Use of Space in Europe’, to be adopted by the Ministers of ESA Member States at said occasion, we concur on the following:

The public funding necessary to equilibrate the Ariane 6 and Vega-C institutional and commercial exploitation will be reviewed in order to take into account the evolution of market prices, institutional prices, economic conditions and status of negotiation between the launcher primes and the industrialists, while maintaining the main principle which is to allow the commercial exploitation of the two launchers with a duly defined public support while at the same time maintaining an independent and autonomous access to space following the principle of European preference for institutional missions.

The implementation of the Ariane 6 and Vega C stabilised exploitation way forward as referred to in the Resolution on principles related to Ariane 6 and Vega C exploitation models and new space transportation solutions, adopted on 13 August 2021 (ESA/C/CCXCIX, Res.1 (Final)) will be based on the following:

– The public funding, once reviewed, will be allocated in contracts to be awarded by ESA to the launch service provider, the launcher system primes and each main industrialist on the basis of the following principles:

  • Within the public funding allocated, a mechanism incentivizing cost reduction will be elaborated and applied.
  • With respect to the launch service provider, the allocation of funding will be commensurate to the commercial risks taken, to be assessed jointly with ESA.
  • For the launcher system primes and each main industrialist, the funding will be allocated subject to them meeting their respective target prices as agreed between ESA, the respective launcher system prime and the concerned main industrialist, using ESA audits.

– We invite the ESA Director General to propose, by mid-2023 and for approval by the concerned participating states, revised exploitation parameters related to public funding, based on the ESA Council Resolution adopted in 2021 and on the above principles.

The proposed acknowledgement of operational European NewSpace micro and mini launch systems for ESA satellite launch service procurements, upon its adoption by Council, would effectively represent a first step towards an evolution of the launch service procurement policy for ESA missions as referred to in the ESA Council Resolution adopted in 2005.

In the context of the proposed invitation to review the legal framework governing the European launcher exploitation scheme, such exercise would involve starting a reflection with concerned states on the conditions for the industrial and geographical distribution of work in exploitation.

All topics addressed above will be pursued jointly through the following main milestones:

  • December 2022: Sharing of the joint statement at the occasion of the ESA Council
  • May 2023: Progress meeting at ministerial level from France, Germany and Italy
  • June 2023: Status report to ESA Council
  • November 2023: Consultation meeting at ministerial level from France, Germany and Italy on a proposed way forward
  • December 2023: Decisions of the ESA Member States on a proposed way forward
  • June 2024: Latest moment for the new architecture, including the legal framework, to become effective.

Signed in Paris on 22 November 2022 by Bruno Le Maire (France), Robert Habeck (Germany) and Adolfo Urso (Italy).