What exactly is the new EU DG DEFIS and how does it impact the Copernicus programme ?

In short, with the kick-off of the new 2019-2024 European Commission, came a change in its structure. President Ursula von der Leyen saw reinforcing the EU’s defence capacities as one of her priorities. With that in mind, the Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space - DG DEFIS, was born.

As the name suggests, DG DEFIS develops and implements the Commission's policies on defence industry and space, which were previously carried out by the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW). DG GROW, in turn, has become the Directorate-General for Internal Market.

Commissioner Thierry Breton is leading the new DG DEFIS with Timo Pesonen as Director-General, and Pierre Delsaux as Deputy Director-General. Whereas the Copernicus programme remains under the same leadership (see the full organigramme), what does this change of structure mean for the EU Space programme?

The newly created DG DEFIS lays the basis for consolidating all EU space-related activities into one “EU Space programme”. The setting aims to simplify cooperation between the different institutional actors without fundamentally affecting the balance of responsibilities.

End-users of Copernicus data will not notice much difference with the previous set-up. The changes will only positively benefit them by streamlining the work and activities of all institutional actors involved.

As a global leader in space, the European Union will continue to encourage scientific and technical progress by supporting the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the EU’s space industry. The focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups and innovative businesses will remain. The Space programme will continue to improve existing initiatives to meet the users’ needs. Political priorities such as climate change and environmental monitoring will also remain key drivers for the new technology development.

The Copernicus programme remains a priority for the European Commission. Its commitment to the programme, and the broader Copernicus ecosystem, is steadfast. The EU will build on the success of Copernicus and continue to position it as a global reference in earth observation.

More information on the evolution of the EU Space programme can be found here.