On 17 June 2022, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway submitted a joint EEA EFTA Comment on the Commission proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Union Secure Connectivity Programme for the period 2023-2027.
According to the Commission, the objective of the proposal is to achieve an EU space-based secure communication system. The aim is that the proposed regulation will ensure the long-term availability of worldwide uninterrupted access to secure and cost-effective satellite communication services. The initiative would support the protection of critical infrastructures, surveillance, external actions, crisis management and applications that are critical for Member States' economies, security and defence. Furthermore, the proposed programme would allow for the provision of commercial services by the private sector.
The EEA EFTA States welcome the Commission proposal which opens for their participation. However, the proposed legal basis for EEA EFTA States’ participation in the Programme is imposing restrictions on full and efficient participation. The requirement to conclude separate agreements in accordance with Article 218 TFEU would in practice lead to an exclusion of EEA EFTA States’ participation in the Secure Connectivity Programme.
The EEA Agreement extends the Single Market to the EEA EFTA States and establishes a legal basis for cooperation with the EU in several areas, including participation in EU programmes. Through the Agreement, the EEA EFTA States actively participate in and financially contribute to several of the space-related EU programmes. Broad cooperation in the field of space is key to strengthening Europe’s industrial base as well as to preserving the integrity and well-functioning of the Single Market in the EEA.
As long-standing and trustworthy partners to the EU, EEA EFTA States’ participation could contribute to increasing the performance, robustness and security of the communication system, as well as fostering competition.
In the Comment, the EEA EFTA States therefore suggest that the programme should be open for participation of EEA EFTA States based on the EEA Agreement. Accordingly, the EEA EFTA States propose amendments to certain articles of the Commission proposal which would ensure full and efficient participation.
Read the full text of the EEA EFTA Comment here.
A full list of EEA EFTA Comments is available here.
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