While the European Union (EU) and especially its Commission, had plans to turn the European Space Agency (ESA) into an EU run agency, those hopes have now been dashed. Space News reports that the European Competitiveness Council has ruled against the move for the time being noting a lack of political consensus.
While the move had been opposed by the UK and Germany, others had supported the move as a way of cutting costs by moving a way from the ESA “Juste Retour” method of awarding work (work is given to the firms of nation states according to their spend on the ESA programme concerned) to a more competitive tendering system favoured by the EU. Nevertheless, it is thought that the drubbing that pro-EU parties had in the European Parliamentary elections held in May was a major factor in the decision to stop the take over. The rise of anti-EU parties in the election showed that there is now a growing resistance to a further expansion of the powers and reach of the European Union, compared to the rights of the nation states to govern on issues such as immigration, national economies, and running their own scientific and industrial strategies.
ESA and the EU continue to work together on joint projects – most noticeably the Galileo navigation satellite constellation which is funded by both ESA and the EU.