SatCom capabilities are scarce and require significant public investment by Member States. In December 2013, the European Council committed to delivering key capabilities and addressing critical capability shortfalls through concrete projects supported by EDA. On satellite communications, the Council welcomed the preparation of the next generation of Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) through close cooperation between the Member States, the European Commission, the European Space Agency (ESA) and supported by the EDA.
GOVSATCOM’s objective is to ensure reliable, secure and cost-effective civil and military satellite communication services for public authorities in EU and in Member States managing critical security missions and operations. The goal is also to enhance European autonomy and overcome fragmentation of demand through the use of affordable and innovative solutions in synergy with industrial players.
In developing this capability project, EDA deployed a sequential approach:
The initial satellite communication needs for European military actors involved in the conduct of national and CSDP operations, included in the Common Staff Target document, were endorsed by the EDA Steering Board in November 2014. With the support of a feasibility study, EDA developed throughout 2015 and 2016 the technical and mission requirements and assessed various solutions to address those needs. The resulting Common Staff Requirements document and associated Business Case, detailing the GOVSATCOM requirements and proposing the way ahead to meet those requirements, were approved at the EDA Steering Board in March 2017.
Following this approval, EDA, together with contributing Member States, developed from June 2017 onwards the EDA GOVSATCOM Pooling and Sharing demonstration project (GSC Demo). In January 2019, the GSC Demo entered its execution phase with the first meeting of the Project Arrangement Management Group. This means that the project is now ready to provide GOVSATCOM services to meet the GOVSATCOM demands of Member States and European CSDP actors through pooled capabilities provided by contributing Member States. This governmental pooled capability is set up to provide satellite communication resources that cannot be obtained on the commercial market with sufficient level of guaranteed access and security. The GSC Demo responds to an existing need and is fully in line with the revised 2018 Capability Development Plan and its derived EU Capability Development Priorities.
The project should also be seen in the light of the European Union's ongoing efforts to establish an EU GOVSATCOM within the framework of the next EU space programme and in the context of the European Space Agency’s activities in the field of security of satellite communications. Furthermore, the GSC Demo project complements EDA’s EU Satcom Market project, already in place since 2012, which provides commercially available SATCOM and CIS services in an efficient and effective manner. The GOVSATCOM initiative signals a new partnership, not only between military and civil institutional actors but also with industry, in order to better contribute to the competitiveness of Europe.