Czech Republic has signed the ESA Convention
On 8 July the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Mirek Topolánek and the Director General of ESA Jean-Jacques Dordain signed the Agreement on the Czech Republic’s accession to the ESA Convention. Now the Accession Agreement is to be ratified in both chambers of the Czech parliement. According to the Czech Republic Constitution, the Agreement has to be approved by at least three fifths of all MP's and by at least three fifths of present members of senate. Then the Agreement has to be approved and signed by the Czech president Václav Klaus until the end of this year.
The ratification process will be followed by depositing the signed Accession Agreement and accompanying ratification documents at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris (with a copy to ESA). Then the Accession Agreement will entre into force and Czech Republic will become the 18th ESA member state.
By the signature of the Accession Agreement, the Czech cooperation with ESA reached the highest level possible. It dates back to 1996, when Czech Republic signed the formal Framework Cooperation Agreement. In the year 2000, the cooperation was extended by entering the small scientific ESA programme PRODEX, by which the cooperation also gained more concrete shape and first Czech scientific projects started. In November 2003 however, Czech Republic bacame an ESA European Cooperating State by signing the Plan for European Cooperating States Agreement (PECS Agreement) and entering the ESA PECS Programme. The membership in PECS automatically cancelled the membership in PRODEX. More about the development of Czech cooperation with ESA can be found here.
In these days Czech Republic is about to finish the fourth year of membership in PECS Programme. It's purpose is to prepare all national capacities needed for successful and fruitful full ESA membership. In this programme there are 29 projects of different kind totalling 8,5 M€. Some of them already finished, but the majority is still running. The results achieved by Czech industry and research, as well as existing administrative and coordination infrastructure, were positively evaluated during the ESA Industrial audit of Czech capacities held in October 2007. The positive results of Industrial audit became surely an important prerequisite for the unanimous vote of all ESA member states at ESA Council in June 2008, to accept Czech republic as a new ESA member. It is now almost certain, that the Czech Republic will become the 18th ESA member state, the first ESA member state from the former Eastern (Soviet) block.
The ESA programme surely presents a wide scale of opportunities for Czech space industry and research. Not only in the field of exploration, astronomical and astrophysical research, but also in Earth sciences and broad spectra of applications such as satellite navigation, Earth observation and also in high-tech technological development, which is an essential building block for all these space domains. Working on ESA projects augments the competitivness of Czech industrial companies and research institutions and raises international awareness of their capabilities and skills worldwide.
Full ESA membership is bound to bring Czech Republic significant economical and knowledge benefits based on exploiting space applications in the spheres of services and education. Czech Republic will also have the right to directly influence preparation and planning of new European space missions and strategic orientation of Europe in space domain.