Switzerland and Luxembourg are to submit a joint candidature to co-chair the European Space Agency Council at ministerial level for the period 2012-2015.
A statement said that Switzerland would thus underscore its “commitment to European independence in space” as well as strengthen ties with Luxembourg “beyond space affairs”.
Although a founding ESA member, Switzerland has never held this important position at the agency. It is currently held by Italy.
A joint candidature would play to both countries’ strengths, the statement continued: Switzerland’s many years of experience working with the ESA and Luxembourg’s knowledge of internal European Union processes.
“The period 2012-2015 will be a decisive one for European space activities, since relations between the ESA, the EU and national space agencies will need to be clarified on the basis of the EU's financial prospects for 2014-2020,” added the communiqué from the State Secretariat for Education and Research.
The ESA was founded in 1975 to put Europe on the space map in an era dominated by the United States and the then Soviet Union. Switzerland is this year providing funding worth SFr120 million ($129 million).
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