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Home arrow newsitems arrow EU Commission's vice-President Tajani to EuroFora : EU can become Autonomous in Space High Tech.

EU Commission's vice-President Tajani to EuroFora : EU can become Autonomous in Space High Tech.

Written by ACM
Monday, 18 January 2010

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*Strasbourg/- Europe is able to develop all High-Tech means guaranteing an "Autonomous Access to Space in the next 5 years", and can become "a Protagonist" on Space Technology, fex. with GALILEO's Sattelite Navigation System, replied to an "EuroFora" question EU Commission's vice-President in charge of Transports, Antonio Tajani, who is designated, in the Barroso II New Commission, to lead EU's "New Industrial Policy".


- "EuroFora" asked Tajani if, when he refered to "Space" as a "new area" of EU competence "after the entry into force of Lisbon Treaty", at an earlier Hearing by EU Parliament's Commission on Industry and Research, he believed, or not, that EU could and should ensure an "Autonomous Access to Space in 2010-2015".


Currently it's only USA and Russia, probably followed by China, who notoriously try to develop new re-usable vehicles both for Orbital and outer Space flights, starting by projects such as "Orion" and "Kliper", etc. respectively. But ESA's latest proposals to cooperate on building a Space Vehicle, either faced a refusal (USA), or were droped because of internal disagreements, as fex. after a December 2005 ESA session in Berlin, when, reportedly, the lack of only one (1 !) vote, cancelled a Russian offer..


- "In my view, Yes.. I think that we (EU) are pretty able to make it", clearly replied Tajani to "EuroFora"'s question.


- Considering also that "Europe must have its own Space Policy, according to Lisbon Treaty", he added. "We (EU) are already working with GMES ("Global Monitoring for Enironment and Security") and GALILEO (EU's Satellite Navigation System, equivalent to USA's GPS and Russia's Glonass, etc), We have already EGNOS, which works well", and "on 2014 we shall see also GALILEO working".


-"That's why, I think that Europe will be a Protagonist" on Space Tech., particularly "if we'll (EU) have the Political Will to support this great project : I think that GALILEO is a pretty great Challenge, that Europe must win. I am committed to succeed on that", Tajani promissed.

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Significantly, EU Commission's vice-President made these statements in Strasbourg, located near Stuttgart, whose Stockmarket hosts the German "Family" SME which won recently the competition for the EU procurement to fabricate 24 GALILEO Satellites. Strasbourg also hosts a World-famous Seismologic Laboratory at its "Globe Institute", which was recently cited by Reuters even for the analysis of the Earthquake which stroke ... Haiti, at the other side of the Earth, in the Gulf of Mexico (!), as well as an "International Space University", a performant Earth Observation Center for Maps made by Satelites (CERTIT), etc., while being also close to the EU "Space Operation Center" at nearby Darmstadt (between Frankfurt and Strasbourg), the European Austronaut Center (at Mainz), Germany's biggest Atmospheric Dynamics' Research Labo, etc. An even longer list of interesting Space-related EU assets, that the "European Science Foundation" (HQ in Strasbourg) has already tried to synthetise all together as "Earth Sciences", and that French Senator Philippe Richert recently anounced his intention to support as "Pole of Excellence" for "Eco-Technologies"     
 
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    "2014 will be a key year for GALILEO", because "we (EU) shall start to see Practical Benefits" from it.  But, as far as GMES is concerned, it has already started to be used in Crisis situations, f.ex. after the recent Earthquake at Haiti, where it helped dispatch aid on the ground, he anounced earlier.


    He was replying  to a British MEP concerned if what she called "alarming Costs" for GMES and GALILEO might "delay" them further ("550 Millions € per Year", and "74 Millions €", as she said),  the EU Commissioner did "not exclude" to ask EU Parliament to act "if there is a need for further funds", since, eventually, there might be "extra costs of about + 16% in average".


    But, "for the moment", on GMES, "we are IN the Budget", he observed. Moreover, the realisation of such Space programmes could generate ..."Savings of 90 Millions €", Tajani observed.

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    Curiously,  some British worries about comparatively small overcosts on Space High Tech projects, did not extend also on the controversial old A400M military transport Airplane project, deprived of any important novelty, but requiring ...more than  5 Billion € as overcostrs, in addition to the 22 Billions € already wasted there, (and which could become available for   other, much more interesting EU projects, as in Space Tech., "Airplane of the Future", etc,  if the controversial A400M was droped, as various people suggest)...Meanwhile, however, GMES' Satelite Earth Observation's mecanism succeeded to help Rescue operations after Haiti's tragic earthquake, while A400M would never be of any help there, because it's unable to fly so far..


    "Galileo is a Global project, and not only European", observed Tajani in another reply to the same MEP's questions about China's moves and Galileo Satellites' "safety". That's why  EU Commission's President, Barroso himself recently 'wrote to  the Chinese President, in order to find a way to  "harmonize the EU and the Chinese systems", for a future use of both infrastructures, so that Galileo will be able to pick up Signals compatible to both systems, so that it won't damage any of them, but work with both. For a similar aim, "Barroso wrote also to Russia", Tajani revealed.


    In general, there is, today, "a Political Need for a New Industrial Policy" for Europe, based on "Innovation", "Green" Growth, and open to SMEs,, Tajani stressed earlier, speaking with MEPs.


    On the Topical point of "Carbon Tax" extended at EU's external Borders, his statements were welcomed by several MEPs, including French MEP Rachida Dati, traditionally close to President Sarkozy, because, unlike other Commissioners, he appeared open to "Anti-Dumping" measures, if EU has to face "Unfair Competition" by "Social and/or Environmental Dumping"  from 3rd Countries, (fex. China or Turkey, etc), who produce "cheaper" just because they don't respect neither Workers' elementary Rights, nor the Environment.


    -  The idea of a "CO2 tax .. is an Hypothesis to consider, actually laid down in the ITC Legislation", but "it's better to wait until (UNO's) Copenhagen Summit's process is completed, (i.e. by collecting the Commitments of each Country, on January 2010, and by advancing towards a Binding Treaty : See "EuroFora"'s NewsReports from Copenhagen, 12/2009), assess the situation, and take EU decisions on the basis of informations given by the UN also on other Countries' stance, Tajani advised.

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    Indeed, Copenhagen was "a 1st step", insufficient but useful, achieved by Europe in the Global World, since it incited USA, China, and other Countries to undertake commitments to fight against Climate change for the 1st time, the EU Commission's vice-President observed.


    Meanwhile, the "Green Economy" is a New Market growing more than +5% per year  : It's not only about Environment, but also an Economic choice, and has already become a huge Economic opportunity, Tajani stressed.


    But, while placin "Innovation" as "1st Priority", Tajani was also careful to address the issues of immediate concern to EU Citizens :


    - Markets are not only about Economy, but also about Human Health, Environment, Jobs and other Social issues, etc., he said, reiterating his promisses (See relevant "EuroFora"'s 12/2009 Publication) to systematically "consult" all People involved before taking important decisions, to update and "revise" EU Regulations on Dangerous Substances (as "Reach", etc), to defend the "Memory of Sacrifices done by our Fathers" who created the first factories, by protecting "Europe's Industrial Heritage",  to support "Solidarity" as a European value, and to "tell the Truth" to workers, whenever they have to face hard "industrial restructuring" provoked by the "Global Crisis".


    In particular, Tajani, who is also in charge of "Enterpreneurship", stressed the importance of "SMEs", both as "Start-ups" for Technologic Innovations, and as "Micro-Enterprises" helping Workers who became "redudant" in some old big Industries, to find an immediate way to re-integrate the Labour market and gain a living.


    Therefore, Tajani anounced his intention to push for an adequate implementation of EU's "Small Business Act", and mainly struggle to guarantee "SME's Access to Loans", as well as to "Public Procurements", etc., by slashing "Bureaucracy" and convincing Banks : It's unacceptable, f.ex., for EU's Investment Bank to keep some 30 Million € unused, while they should had been distrubuted to SME's, he criticized, agreeing with MEPs' remarks, and promissing to "go to Luxembourg" to try to unblock the situation at the EIB, but also to generalise almost everywhere the Simplification facilitating SME's access to EU and National Public Funds and/or Procurements, as he has earlier done, as Transports' EU Commissioner, on the "Marco Polo" programme for intermodal transports.¨

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    Often SME's are hindered to benefit from States' procurements at all levels, simply because "they don't know" what, when and how to act in cumbersome Bureaucratic procedures, unlike to "Big" Companies, Tajani critically observed : A timely remark which  could apply even to Financial incentives and support given fex. by the French State to new On-line Media, which were practicaly usurpated by some old apparathiks coming from traditional big Media without any really new idea, simply because they were informed before others when exactly the legislation was completed, while, on the contrary, really innovative On-line Media projects of quality, lost "tight" Time Deadlines merely because they were not timely warned...


    But, at any case, Europe should face Global Competition and threats of outsourcing industrial production, by promoting "Quality", and not necessarily by "Quantity", he argued, pleading f.ex. for "New Cars of the Future", and other Innovative products, while also supporting the view that even the oldest industry in the world : that of Textile, "can become a key in the Future"; a,d "Modern", particularly if it creates innovations with High Tech, (as  a recent Exhibition at EU Parliament has shown in Strasbourg, pointing at concrete realisations, fex. by fabricating clothes for Austronauts and/or other textiles used in various Air-Space or Defence activities, during special Industrial processes, etc, extending even to innovatie "Nanomaterials"). ..

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    An "Eugenic" loophole Amendment, which might expose to Dangers reminiscent of "3rd Reich's" notorious Genetic Abuses, hidden at the last minute inside an otherwise Good, larger Health policy Package scheduled to be voted on Thursday, was strongly denounced by a coalition of MEPs from various Political Groups and Countries, in a Press Conference held this afternoon at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    Mainly calling to "Select Human Embryos", via "Genetic Counselling" and "pre-implantation" Techniques including "Genetic Tests", in order to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", it might open ways to Dangerous Practices in Future, they denounced in substance.

    But they also made it clear that a much larger Report inside which this Controversial Amendment "No 15" was added in dubious circumstances, officialy destinated to struggle against "Rare Diseases", and drafted by Professor Antonios Trakatellis, was otherwise "an Excellent Report", aiming at a "completely Uncontroversial target" of Health policy on which "all MEPs and Experts are united, believing that Europe should act" to protect People's Health (See "EuroFora"'s earlier News).

    The controversy came at a particularly delicate moment for the EU in relation to Citizens, at the eve of June 2009 EU Elections, and shortly before Ireland re-votes for "Lisbon Treaty"..    

- Denouncing risks of "an Eugenic demand, very similar to what we had during the 3rd Reich in Germany, but now coming from some Scientisists themselves", German ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Dr. Peter Liese stressed that critical MEPs were against "Eugenic" engineering with "Selection of Human Embryos", and anything which might ultimately lead up to to a "Selection of Human Race". It doesn't help to "eradicate" Human Lives, he added.


    Several Experts and NGOs expressed "Deep Concern", as f;ex. DR M.C. Cornel of the "European Society of Human Genetics", which stressed, on this occasion, that "the importance of Non-Directiveness in Reproductive issues is a Central characteristic of Human Genetics, after the Atrocities committed in the name of Genetics in the first half or the 20th Century".

     - "This is completely Unacceptable", stressed Italian Liberal MEP Vittorio Prodi, on the Controversial Amendment, also because pushes to "eliminate early Human Life", as he noted.

     - "This opens a Dangerous Road, rather a Motorway", denounced Danish MEP Mrs Margrette Auken, from the "Greens", observing that various similar attempts were made in the Past "not only in Germany, but also in several other Countries, "even at the 1970ies", "f.ex. on forced Sterilisation of Roma" People, and other criticisable situations f.ex. in the UK, in Sweden, etc. as she said.

    + Other NGOs, as f.ex. "LebenHilfe" from Berlin, added that, among various other Risks, could also be that, by exploiting the pre-implantation Genetic Diagnostics and the Selection of "healthy" Embryos, some may "propagate" several "Eugenic" aims, starting f.ex. by pushing to eradicate Human Livies which might "Cost too much" to preserve, ultimately exposing to dangers reminiscent of the "3rd Reich"'s atrocious abuses.

    In consequence, ChristianDemocrats/EPP and "Green" MEPs "decided by Majority to vote against" this Controversial Amendment, anounced to Journalists the 5 MEPs who participated in the Press Conference, representing a wide spectrum, from Liberals to "Greens" and ChristianDemocrats, and from Hungary, Italy, Germany and Danemark up to Ireland (Gay Mitchell), etc.
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    Hungarian ChristianDemocrat MEP Laszlo Surjan said "that it was "Suddenly, at the End of the Procedure" in Committee, that "appeared this (Controversial) Amendment, which has nothing to do" with the main purpose of the Report, on which all agreed.

    He denounced an "Unhonest" move, and called to "avoid this kind of unacceptable situations". Nobody should "Select People", Surjan stressed.

    - "We (MEPs) had No Chance to Discuss" this last-minute Amendment earlier added at a Committee's level, said German MEP Peter Liese

    Speaking to "EuroFora", Dr. Liese, the Spokesman of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group in EU Parliament, said that MEPs didn't oppose other references of the Report f.ex. on "Genetic Tests", because they were "no proposals" to impose them, while, on the contrary, there was "a Problem" if anyone attempted to "impose" f.ex. this or that Genetic Technique and "Genetic Counselling", etc. to the People on human reproduction.
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The precise Text :
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    Controversial parts of Amendment No 15 ask mainly "to lead finally to the Eradication" of "Hereditary" "rare diseases", "through Genetic Counselling .., and ..pre-Implantation Selection of healthy Embryos".

    But  EU Rapporteur Professor Trakatellis, said to "EuroFora" that fears should be alleviated by Guarantees that all this should be done only "where appropriate", when it's "not contrary to existing National Law", and "always on a Voluntary basis", according to other Parts of the Amendment.

    He stressed that the main aim was to allow "a free and informed choice of persons involved", without imposing them anything :  - "It's not an obligatory, but advisary" text, he said.

    To make that point clear, he was ready, in agreement with many MEPs, to eventually drop at least that part of the controversial Amendment which initially called for "efforts to ..lead finally to the Eradication of those rare diseases" "which are Hereditary".

    But, until late Wednesday evening, reportedly together with many other MEPs, he stood by all the rest of the controversial Amendment, (fex. on the "Genetic Counselling" and the "pre-implantation Selection of healthy Embryos"), so that critical MEPs, going from ChristianDemocrats as Dr. Liese, to "Greens" or "Ind/Dem", observed to "EuroFora" that "this was not enough" to close the dangerous loophole.

    Particularly since, as Professor Trakatellis noted himself, "this is already allowed to the U.K.", and "other National Legislations would probably follow, sooner or later" in a similar direction. As for a general call to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", this "should happen, at any case, in practice, de facto", to protect public Health.

    On the contrary, "our goal should be to help patients suffering from rare diseases, not to eradicate the patients. In case of genetic disease risk, the decision should not be guided by scenarios" made by politicians. "Perents who may decide to accept a child, even if handicapped or with genetic disease, must be respected and supported with solidarity", critical MEPs stated.

    - "Any Pressure" to "a patient or couple (who "should be able to make an informed choice consistent with their own values"),"from health Professionals, Public Health Policies or Governemental Institutions, or Society at large, should be avoided", stresses the "European Society for Human Genetics".

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Each MEP's vote will be registered !

-----------------------------------   

The Socialist Group requested a "Split vote" on the Amendment 15, first without, and afterwards with the words "lead finally to the Eradication" etc.


    But the first "split vote" leaves intact all the other parts of the Controversial Amendment, (i.e. "Genetic Counselling", "Selection of healthy Embryos", etc).

    That's why, 3 Groups of MEPs : ChristianDemocrats/EPP, "Greens/EFA", and "Ind/Dem", have asked for "Roll Call Votes", on everything regarding the Controversial Amendment No 15, and on the final outcome of the resulting Report as amended, which will register all the individual positions to be taken by each MEP.   

Something which will obviously make each MEP think twice before voting for one or another choice, to be sure that he/she will make the right choice in front of EU Citizens, particularly at these pre-Election times...


    Crucial Votes were scheduled between 12 Noon and 1 p.m. local Strasbourg time, in the middle of a long series of various other Reports, and after a long Public Debate on the larger Health policy package, from 9 to 11.50 am.

    The specific Report inside which was hidden the controversial Amendment is due to be debated between 11 and 12 am.

    So that more last-minute Surprises may not be excluded a priori...

    Particularly at the present Historic moment, when even the Institutional Future of the EU depends on the result of a second Referendum on "Lisbon Treaty", later this year, in ...Ireland, a mainly Catholic country, where People are particularly sensitive in such kind of socio-cultural and values issues...
 

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     (Draft due to be updated).
 
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