Speech from

Speech by Matilda Ernkrans, Minister for Higher Education and Research, at Space19+, the ESA Ministerial Council


Seville, Spain, November 27-28, 2019

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Dear Director General, dear Colleagues,

Firstly, I would like to thank our Spanish hosts for having us here in this historical and beautiful town.

As the responsible minister for space matters in the Swedish government, I am also looking forward to contributing to the development of ESA and strengthening the relations with my fellow space ministers.

Sweden has been a member of ESA since the start over forty years ago. European cooperation within space is of utmost importance to Sweden. Sweden will thus continue to perform an important part of its space activities through ESA. Sweden also has unique resources, like the space base Esrange, through which we strive to contribute to Europe’s space capabilities.

ESA has a very important role to play as provider of cooperation in space research and technology, in an era where space applications become more and more essential to create wealth and safety for the European society and its citizens.

ESA must make sure that all its member states, big or small, can benefit in a fair way from the opportunities that the programs offer.

I would like to underline the importance of close cooperation and efficient definition of roles between ESA and the EU to achieve cost efficiency and make their Member States and Europe stronger and more competitive in space.

Sweden is upgrading its ambitions in space. Last year the government presented a national space strategy that was adopted by the parliament. I have brought copies of an English summary that I invite you to read. On the front page there is, by the way, a famous picture of the “Earth-rise” seen from the moon, taken by a Swedish camera from Hasselblad. 

With the strategy as a basis, we have started several activities, including an upgrade of our space base Esrange. Since more than fifty years we have successfully launched more than five hundred sounding rockets from Esrange, and it is thus a strategic resource for all of Europe.

We have now invested in a test bed which is under construction. The test bed will contribute to Europe’s independent access to space by allowing advanced tests of for example motors and reusable equipment.

I also have the ambition to start a revision of the national space law as soon as possible, in order to modernize it and adapt to current and future needs.

We have a shared responsibility for the planet and future generations. ESA:s space operations should contribute to meeting the global sustainability goals of Agenda 2030. Satellite-technology is central to environmental and climate observation as the data provided by these systems gives us the opportunity to detect changes, for instance in temperatures, at an early stage.

Earth observation data should therefore be free and open to facilitate contributions to the work on Agenda 2030 and the global sustainability goals. Let me underline the significance of the new activities planned in ESA around the theme of Space and the Arctic, which we appreciate sincerely.

Thank you.