The European Union (EU) and ESA share a common aim: to strengthen Europe and benefit its citizens. While they are separate organisations, they are increasingly working together towards common objectives. Some 20 per cent of the funds managed by ESA now originate from the EU budget.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, whereas the EU is supranational. The two institutions have indeed different ranges of competences, different Member States and are governed by different rules and procedures.
However, in recent years the ties between the two institutions have been reinforced by the increasing role that space plays in supporting Europe’s social, political and economic policies.
The legal basis for the EU/ESA cooperation is provided by a Framework Agreement which entered into force in May 2004. Under this agreement the European Commission and ESA coordinate their actions through the Joint Secretariat, a small team of EC’s administrators and ESA executive. The Member States of the two organisations meet at ministerial level in the Space Council, which is a concomitant meeting of the EU and ESA Councils, prepared by Member States representatives in the High-level Space Policy Group (HSPG).
ESA maintains a liaison office in Brussels to facilitate relations with the European institutions.