Industry view of the future of Copernicus

 Industry view of the future of Copernicus

This week the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) published an important position paper on the future of Copernicus from the European Earth Observation Services industry. This paper describes the position of the European Earth Observation (EO) services industry, represented by EARSC, on the evolution and future of the Copernicus Programme in a long-term perspective.

Read the full position paper here (pdf document)


EARSC considers the role of the EO industry of paramount importance in the evolution of Copernicus as it is a key component of the ongoing digital transformation. The following is a summary of the key recommendations of the paper.

The objectives supported by EARSC are the following: to reinforce the voice of the European Earth Observation data and services industry, strengthen the participation of the European industry in Copernicus, ensure that Copernicus’ evolution supports and complements the development of the private sector, leveraging and not crowding out existing commercial capabilities, data and services. All these objectives must be met having in mind the ongoing competition at a global scale.

Developing an agile Earth Observation system

The modernisation strategy of Copernicus aspires to maintain the continuity of Copernicus services and add new elements. The overall objectives are to enhance the performance of data and amplify the role of Earth Observation within potential user communities. EARSC welcomes these ambitious objectives and would like to react to the industrial role through the following points:

  • The continuity of services is a priority for the industry.
  • Copernicus should provide as early as possible: online access and analytics including robust APIs, ubiquitous delivery mechanisms, simple and intuitive to use with the minimum of training and compute overhead. As much as possible, existing European capabilities should be utilised in the process, leveraging European platforms and developments.
  • Adequate budgetary means and greater cooperation between the public and private sectors are necessary.
  • Europe should put in place a significant, stable and long-term demand for EO services. In that regard, the model of anchor tenancy or alternative public-private arrangements should be considered.
  • Europe should pave the way to a transition from Earth Observation to Earth Intelligence.

Supporting the EU Green Deal

As the EU aspires to lead climate mitigation in the face of global warming, it is critical that action be informed by reliable and accurate information and services powered by EO data. This means:

European policy efforts and investments must support the development of innovative applications to analyse and utilise these huge existing and upcoming amounts of data and support a systematic integration of EO capabilities in policies and legislative acts.

Security and Emergency Management

Whereas Copernicus can support civil security through the Emergency Management Service5, we should not overlook the need of robustness and resilience of the entire Copernicus data and services. In particular, the redundancy of the infrastructure is critical and the capacity to react should be further developed expanding the constellation low latency application services.


the European EO services industry would like to recommend the following points:

  • The Copernicus programme should contribute to the competitiveness of the European industry and be further supported in the long term and adequately funded, whilst remaining open and free, for all European actors.
  • The program should fulfil the demand anchor for services provided by European Industry and guarantee efficient use of taxpayer money whilst ensuring synergies with commercial investment.
  • A systematic integration of EO capabilities in policies and EU legislative acts whilst encouraging the implementation of EO-based policy support at the European level and supporting the adoption of similar practices at national, regional, and local levels through demonstrator projects targeted at public institutions to increase confidence at the demand side.
  • To maximise the maturing power of Europe’s commercial space actors (Large System Integrators, Mid-Caps, SMEs and startups), and foster competitiveness, both in Earth Observation and value-adding services, the Copernicus programme should leverage the variety of existing commercial missions and pertaining complementary EO datasets.
  • All the data acquired by the Copernicus programme should be available through high performing, easy-to-use and interoperable digital access and secure technologies. Existing European solutions should be supported in the area of data access and analysis.

Read more

Read the full position paper on the EARSC website here (pdf document)

Remco Timmermans

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