Negotiations started on Lithuania’s perspectives for membership in the European Space Agency

Date

2020 01 22

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Negotiations on Lithuania’s further perspectives and membership in the European Space Agency (ESA) have started. Possible forms of cooperation were discussed on 24 January in Vilnius at a meeting between representatives of Lithuania and ESA.

The implementation of the Plan of European Cooperating State (PECS) Charter, which was signed in 2015 between Lithuania and ESA, is in its final stage. This way, Lithuania is completing the first phase required for membership in this organisation. ESA has published a report on the final plan; the report is assessing the completed phase of cooperation and is offering recommendations to Lithuania on the further development of relations with ESA. A feasibility study on the Lithuanian space sector has also been worked out showing that Lithuania has the potential to develop the space sector in the following areas: life and physical sciences, optics and opto-electronics, materials and processes, and radio-frequency systems and technology.

‘Both these documents are of particular importance for Lithuania in the accession negotiations. We need to assess our strengths and equally take into account the weaknesses as well as get properly prepared for the full membership in the European Space Agency. Membership in this organisation offers enormous opportunities for businesses and scientific establishments to acquire unique expertise, develop products and services of higher added value and take action in an area with high innovation potential,’ says Vice-Minister of the Economy and Innovation Jekaterina Rojaka.

According to Vice-Minister Rojaka, the membership of ESA would enable Lithuanian businesses to participate in the space sector consortia and to expand business activities. Moreover, it would indeed raise the level of Lithuania’s scientific potential, increase opportunities for commercialising scientific results and foster cooperation between science and business.

Cooperation in recent years has helped Lithuanian space players prepare for Lithuania’s membership in the European Space Agency and get acquainted with ESA programmes and activities. Business and science were actively interested in cooperation opportunities, made applications and went to business missions.

Since 2015, Lithuania has participated in five ESA calls with a total of 34 projects worth more than EUR 5.5 million. In 2019, 15 applications were submitted and 9 business and science projects were announced winners with almost EUR 1.7 million of funding.

Since 2016, 5 students from Lithuania have done internships at the European Space Agency and 3 graduates have worked there under the Young Trainees Programme.

Since last July, the Lithuanian Space Office has been set up on the initiative of the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation and the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology to strengthen the Lithuanian space sector and to help prepare for Lithuania’s membership in the European Space Agency. Its main objective is to create and develop the Lithuanian space ecosystem based on innovation, cooperation between business, science and public sectors and integration into the international space community.

A study commissioned by ESA identifies three possible scenarios for further cooperation between Lithuania and ESA, including associated membership, continued activities under the Plan of European Cooperating State (PECS) and full membership.