Governmental Satellite Communications (GovSatcom)

Jun 15, 2017

Start Date: 2013
End Date: n/a
Participating Countries: AT, BE, DE, EE, EL, ES, FR, IT, LT, LU, PL, PT, SE, UK, NO
Other partners:  European Commission, European Space Agency

Satellite communications (Satcom) are critical elements for defence, security, humanitarian aid, emergency response or diplomatic communications. They are a key enabler for civil and military missions/operations in particular in remote and austere environments with little or no infrastructure. Governmental Satellite Communications has been defined as one of the four capability development programmes by the European Council in December 2013. The mandate is to prepare the next generation of satellite communication (2025 timeframe).

Project goals

  • Demonstrate the benefits of a European dual-use approach for the development of such capability
  • Provide by 2018 EDA Member States and European CSDP actors with access to a GOVSATCOM capability based on existing, pooled, governmental SATCOM resources


Detailed description of the project 

Satcom capabilities are scarce and require significant public investment by Member States. In December 2013, the European Council decided to address critical capability shortfalls through concrete projects supported by EDA. On satellite communications, this initiated 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 the European External Action Service (EEAS).

GOVSATCOM’s objective is to ensure in both the civil and military environment reliable, secure and cost-effective satellite communication services for EU and national public authorities managing security critical missions and operations. The goal is also to enhance European autonomy and overcome fragmentation of demand by making use of affordable and innovative solutions in synergy with industrial players.

In developing this capability project, EDA employed a sequential approach.  

The initial satellite communication needs for European military actors involved in the conduct of national and CSDP operations, contained in a Common Staff Target, were endorsed by the EDA Steering Board in November 2014.  With the support of a feasibility study, the EDA developed throughout 2015 and 2016 technical and mission requirements and assessed various solutions for addressing those needs. The resulting Common Staff Requirement 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, will develop from June 2017 onwards a Pooling and Sharing demonstration project, aimed at providing GOVSATCOM capabilities to EDA Member states and European CSDP actors based on existing, pooled, governmental SATCOM resources. This work strand is closely coordinated with the European GOVSATCOM initiative and is aligned with the respective work performed in the European Commission and the European Space Agency in order to develop a GOVSATCOM capability in Europe.

Currently, the European Commission is developing an Impact Assessment on GOVSATCOM, scrutinising and assessing different options for a future European GOVSATCOM capability, in line with the GOVSATCOM user needs and objectives. ESA supports the work through a GOVSATCOM Precursor that will develop the appropriate system requirements, candidate architectures and technology.

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.

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Participating Member States

  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech
  • Germany
  • Estonia
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Spain
  • France
  • Croatia
  • Italy
  • Cyprus
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Hungary
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovenia
  • Slovakia
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • UK