Welcome to IRIS², Europe’s new Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnection & Security by Satellites

By Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market of the European Union

This is historic! After Galileo and Copernicus, we are adding a third constellation to our European portfolio of strategic space infrastructures. Welcome to IRIS², Europe's new Infrastructure for Resilience, Interconnection & Security by Satellites.

Europe as a space power

Yes, we have just reached agreement with the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament on the legal text establishing this new critical infrastructure for the EU.

With an EU budget of €2.4 billion (plus a contribution from ESA and private investments to come), IRIS² establishes space as a vector of our European autonomy, a vector of connectivity and a vector of resilience.

It heightens Europe’s role as a true space power. With a clear ambition and sense of direction.

 

An increasingly contested geostrategic environment

The efforts and energy made at European level to move this initiative forward at record speed also reflect, in my view, the importance of IRIS² in an increasingly contested geostrategic environment.

Space is indeed a much coveted area in which the European Union must guarantee its essential interests. And our space technologies have become strategic capabilities for our citizens, for the resilience of our economies and of course for our armies.

Following today’s agreement in trilogue (Commission, Council, Parliament), we will start work as of tomorrow to roll out the implementation of this important project.

Here too I want to move quickly, in line with what the co-legislators’ speed and determination in the negotiation, because we cannot wait any longer.

The framework defined today is very clear:

IRIS² will be a sovereign constellation, which imposes strict eligibility criteria and security requirements.

IRIS² will be a constellation focused on government services, including defence applications.

IRIS² will provide connectivity to the whole of Europe, including areas that do not currently benefit from broadband Internet, as well as to the whole of Africa, using the constellation’s North-South orbits.

IRIS² will be a “new space” constellation the European way, integrating the know-how of the major European space industries – but also the dynamism of our start-ups, who will build 30% of the infrastructure.

IRIS² will be a constellation at the cutting edge of technology, to give Europe a lead, for example in quantum encryption. It will therefore be a vector of innovation.  

IRIS² will be a multi-orbit constellation, capable of creating synergies with our existing Galileo and Copernicus constellations. The objective here is to reduce the risk of space congestion.

I would like to thank the European Parliament and the Council for their support in creating Europe’s third pillar in space. After satellite positioning and earth observation, we now have a secure European connectivity infrastructure.

Inspired by Iris, goddess of Greek mythology, messenger of the gods to humans…

Iris² will bring secure European connectivity to all!

 

This article was originally published (November 17, 2022) on Commissioner Thiery Bretton LinkedIn profile.

 

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