Follow-up: Occitanie’s Space Strategy: Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future of EU Space, 24 January 2024

On January 24, 2024, the Occitanie region in collaboration with NEREUS hosted an event titled “Occitanie’s Space Strategy: Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future of EU Space” at its representation office. The event marked the launch of Occitanie’s regional space strategy and aimed to foster dialogue with the European Commission (EC), the European Space Agency (ESA), and like-minded regions. The event was structured into two panel debates, focusing on different aspects of Occitanie’s space strategy and regional cooperation in the EU space sector including discussion with the audience.



Thierry Cotelle, NEREUS President and Jalil BENABDILLAH, Vice-President of the Occitanie Region


The first roundtable, titled “Boosting the EU Space Strategy: Harnessing Occitanie’s Ecosystem Excellence,” aimed to introduce the strategy launch and its unique features, was led by Pedro NARRO, Policy Officer from the European Committee of the Regions. Speakers included Jalil BENABDILLAH, Vice-President of the Occitanie Region; Jean-Marc ASTORG, Strategy Director at CNES; Eric GIRAUD, Director General of Aerospace Valley; and Catherine LAMBERT, President of Club Galaxie.



Among the key points discussed, Mr. Benabdillah emphasized the necessity of a robust space strategy in Occitanie’s thriving industrial ecosystem. Mr. Cotelle highlighted the importance of sharing best practices through interregional collaboration at a European scale. Mr. Astorg outlined the significance of European unity in view of the global competition in the launch sector. Ms. Lambert emphasized the need to bridge space labs with companies to address regional challenges and spur innovation, while Mr. Giraud stressed the importance of visibility for regional space capabilities.


Moderated by Ms. Roya Ayazi, Secretary General of NEREUS, the second roundtable, titled “Regions as Drivers in the EU Space Agenda,” aimed to explore the significance of European cooperation for regions seeking to bolster their space capabilities. Representatives from Hesse and Catalonia, two NEREUS-regions with established space strategies, were also part of the discussion.



NEREUS-president Cotelle underscored the importance of space in addressing regional climate change challenges and highlighted NEREUS’s role in fostering dialogue between users and the EU. Christoph Kautz, Director of Satellite Navigation and Earth Observation at DG DEFIS, European Commission, emphasized that regional companies play a crucial role in shaping the space sector. Further, he discussed the development of EU Space law to align with sustainability goals, supporting a single space market and optimizing private sector operations, while fostering collaboration between public and private entities. Pierre Potin, Head of the Copernicus Space Office (ESA),  noted NEREUS’s facilitation in enhancing ESA’s understanding of regional needs. Dr. Peter Doepgen, Head of Unit at the Hessen Ministry of Economics, highlighted the coordinated regional strategy in Hesse succeeds the better management of its rich space ecosystem effectively. Ignasi Ribas, Director of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC), highlighted the strategy’s focus on addressing regional challenges, promoting key technologies, and identifying regional space actors, including over 90 companies. Finally, raising awareness towards regional politicians is necessary to develop Copernicus friendly policies in their territories.


In his closing remarks, MEP Christophe Grudler underscored the indispensable role of regions in shaping space policy. With the space sector’s increasing significance and the autonomy it provides, he suggested that the next MFF budget for space could potentially double.


In light of the above, the event served as an opportunity for Occitanie to demonstrate its dedication to advancing space initiatives and participate in valuable dialogues with European counterparts. It underscored the importance of regional cooperation in shaping the EU Space agenda and stressed the benefits of exchanging strategies and successful approaches among NEREUS regions. More than 70 participants from regional offices, space associations, companies, etc joined the event.