17th ESPI Autumn Conference

By European Space Policy Institute





– Organiser: European Space Policy Institute
– Condition to participate: Registration
– Language: English
– Virtual or in-person: In-person

The Autumn Conference is an annual ESPI event where high-level stakeholders come together to discuss outstanding issues at stake for the European space sector. The theme of this year’s conference is “Space Governance: Public and Private Objectives in a Multi-Stakeholder Environment.”

Conference Overview

The Autumn Conference is one of the annual highlights of ESPI’s calendar, offering a platform for European and international stakeholders to convene and hold informed and in-depth space-related discussions that reach beyond headlines. This year, the 17th edition of the Autumn Conference will be held on the 24th and 25th of October 2023 in an in-person format. This year’s discussions will focus on “European Space Governance in a Transforming World”, acknowledging that the global scope and nature of space and non-space activities are currently undergoing profound changes. Hosted at the Urania Observatory in Vienna, this two-day event will be comprised of three panel sessions and a high-level debate.

The following is an overview of the agenda:

Day 1 – 24 October 2023 (13:00 – 18:30)

Day One will feature the conference keynote followed by the first two sessions of the Conference, which will each include a thematic speech followed by a moderated panel discussion.

Welcome & Opening Remarks

  • Hermann Ludwig Moeller | Director, ESPI
  • Eric Morel de Westgaver | Directorate of European, Legal and International Matters, ESA
  • Andreas Geisler | Head, Aeronautics and Space Agency, FFG

Conference Keynote

  • Etienne Schneider | Incoming Chair of ESPI Advisory Council and Former Deputy Prime Minister, Luxembourg

Session 1 – “Embracing Multipolar Partnerships”

As dynamics of global partnerships evolve, Europe should assess how it wants to position itself and interact with this competitive and diverse environment. The magnitude of the climate crisis, economic uncertainty, coupled with other geopolitical challenges, highlight the need to re-think the European approach to space. The aim of the panel is to discuss the avenues by which Europe can become a fully-fledged space power, while also fostering robust alliances across the globe, enhancing Europe’s influence and competitiveness in this transformative era. The panel promises to weave a discourse around multipolarity in space partnerships, paving the way for increased European prominence through bold and timely ambitions of European decision makers and industry executives.

Session 2 – “Bursting the Public to Public Bubbles”

Current European space governance is defined by a combination of different actors, including ESA, the EU, and their respective Member States, without clear, consistent and robust cooperation and coordination mechanisms. This is increasingly resulting in policy and regulatory fragmentation, asymmetry in priorities, and potential duplication of efforts. Acting in accordance with their mandate, institutional bodies dealing with space in Europe will ultimately need improved coordination to unlock the full potential of the European economy and society. The aim of this panel is to provide introspection on how the plethora of institutional space actors in Europe can further increase synergies, better defining their respective priorities, roles and responsibilities.

Day 2 – 25 October 2023 (10:00 – 14:00)

Day Two will feature the debate followed by the third session, which will include a thematic speech followed by a moderated panel discussion.

Opening Remarks

  • Margit Mischkulnig | Head of the Department for Space Affairs, BMK

The Debate – “Comparing and Contrasting European and U.S. Space Ambitions”

The debate will examine differences in approach by European and American public actors in balancing the interests of both public and private entities. It will address the transformation of the industrial eco-system and the underlying public-private relations and procurement strategies. Specifically, where NASA’s strategy has cultivated an increased dependence on the commercial sector to achieve some of the agency’s objectives, strategies adopted in Europe are geared towards striking the right balance between national interests, European cooperation, global competitiveness, and free-market competition.

Session 3 – “Leveraging a Multistakeholder Environment”

The unfolding space transformation is further characterised by transformed public-private relations that play a crucial role in fostering the development of industrial capabilities, overall sectorial innovation, and industrial competitiveness in global markets. This panel aims to shed light on how to navigate an increasingly multifaceted environment, consisting of established and emerging industrial actors, R&D actors, policymakers, investors, and increasingly diverse user communities. Learning to navigate such an environment is especially important today, as it is challenging the conventional narratives of the European space domain. In particular, the discussion will build on the need to re-think the public-private continuum, stimulating its innovative power, and going beyond a focus on industrial policy and direct industrial return towards towards frameworks that serve the broader set of European and national policy objectives.

Additional Information

Additional details about the conference, programme, and speakers will be provided soon.

For any questions or to request more information, please send a note to events@espi.or.at or to Sara Dalledonne at: sara.dalledonne@espi.or.at

The Autumn Conference is supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Federal Ministry Republic of Austria Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), and the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).