Press Releases EU Satellite Centre: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the Ministerial Board meeting

EU Satellite Centre: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the Ministerial Board meeting

We are in Spain, y como estamos en España, lo normal sería hablar español, pero este Centro [de Satelites de la Union Europea] tiene una importancia que va mucho más allá de España en particular, de Europa incluso. Es un Centro global. This is a global Centre, and the importance of the Satellite Centre is much more than just European so allow me to use English.

Today, together with the Defence Ministers of our Member States, we have had a meeting here in Torrejón de Ardoz, at the premises of the European Union’s Satellite Centre, for an extraordinary Meeting of the Board.

This is the second time [we meet], the second meeting that we hold here in Madrid in this Satellite Centre – the first one was in May 2021.

The Satellite Centre is the eyes of Europe – son los ojos de Europa. It is the eyes of the European Union.

And look at these fantastic images of what you see from space. They look like paintings. This is what you can see from the satellites that are turning around Earth and sending these images, and having a complete vision of what is happening everywhere.

This Centre provides us with a better picture of the relevant developments across the world. And the Ministers have had the opportunity to see [this] first-hand today during the visit to the Satellite Centre’s operations rooms.

We have been discussing the achievements of this Centre and, more importantly, how to further shape its activities, to develop and improve them in the future.

The Ministers have provided political guidance for the future of this Centre and expressed their commitment to have our own, autonomous geospatial intelligence analysis. This is the task of this Centre.

It provides geospatial intelligence analysis – it is our agency for that. It is the agency of the Member States, but also for our partners. And, among our partners, particularly in these troubled times, [is] Ukraine.

The input and analysis of this Centre covers a great number of areas: arms control, non–proliferation, counter terrorism, humanitarian missions, natural disasters, drug–trafficking, [or] illegal mining, all over the world.

And certainly, it supports our Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions [and operations].

It supports international partners – the United Nations, for example the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The production of the Centre has increased incredibly in the last years – ten times more today than ten years ago. Only this year, they have released more than 4,000 reports, some of them in less than 24 hours because we have to know what is happening in real time, especially when you are facing a war.

The Centre has been watching closely the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine and provided a crucial mapping of the impact of the flooding. It has been following the risks on the cooling system of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

During the last evacuation [of citizens] in Sudan, in Khartoum, the Centre has been providing very useful information to save European citizens.

As I said, the Centre is the eyes in the sky. Los ojos en el espacio – más que en el cielo, en el espacio. Son los ojos de Europa.

In order to enlarge the work of the Centre, I have signed an arrangement with the Defence Ministers of five Member States in order to have access to the Earth observation data from their most recent governmental systems.

Together with Commissioner [for Internal Market, Thierry] Breton, I am also pleased to witness today the signature by the Director of the Centre [Sorin Ducaru] and the Director-General of DG DEFIS [Timo Pesonen] of a Contribution Agreement extending the Satellite Centre’s role as a service provider for the Copernicus – the network of our satellites – at the service of our external and security actions.

All and all, this is a good day.

It is a good day for the Satellite Centre. It is a good day for the defence and security of Europe, and I am very happy to share this event with my friend, Minister [for Defence of Spain, Margarita] Robles, to whom I pass the floor.

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