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The Making of EU Military Space Policy: Beyond the Rhetoric

Iraklis Oikonomou

In recent years, the European Union has been locked in a process of developing a European Space Policy. This policy has not only been articulated discursively, but also realised through the development of grand projects involving great technological sophistication and politico-economic significance, such as GMES and Galileo. The official rhetoric has presented these developments as having a purely civilian nature. Nevertheless, the multiple military applications of both GMES and Galileo, as well as the setting-up of projects of a purely military scope, such as MUSIS, under the aegis of the European Defence Agency, demonstrate that the unfolding of the European Space Policy has entailed the establishment of its parallel, military arm. The latter has not received any significant attention, both empirically and theoretically.Against the prevailing rhetoric, the paper will present in detail the background to the current European space projects' military applications, focusing in particular on two seemingly civilian projects: GMES and Galileo. It will then link these developments to two prime factors: the setting-up of the European Security and Defence Policy, and the political economy of European arms and space manufacturers. The analysis will ague that due to strategic and politico-economic necessities, the European Space Policy is characterised by growing militarising tendencies. Yet, this process is not linear; the paper will highlight the multiple contradictions involved in the making of an EU military space policy, at the institutional, politico-military and economic level. Finally, the analysis will call for a broadening of the European Space Policy research agenda, to include the militarising trends and the tremendously important normative as well as ontological questions that it poses.

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