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EDA & ESA deepen cooperation, high-level talks in Cyprus

EDA et ESA deepen cooperation, high-level talks in Cyprus

The European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) today agreed to further deepen their already close cooperation in the cyber domain. The objective of the enhanced cooperation, approved today through an Exchange of Letter between EDA Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý and ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher, is to further expand the cyber resilience cooperation between the two organisations.

EDA and ESA have established a close working relationship on the basis of the Administrative Agreement signed in June 2011 which covers important domains of mutual interest, such as space-based Earth observation, unmanned vehicles, whether on sea or air, critical technologies for non-dependence, CBRNe, Guidance, Navigation and Control, and cyber resilience. In 2016, EDA and ESA signed an Implementing Arrangement on their cooperation for the Cyber Defence for Space Project. In the field of capability research and development, ESA and EDA are jointly investing in the Space and Cyber Defence Joint Study, now concentrating on Cyber Threat Intelligence, and cooperating on an ESA-led Cyber security and space-based services study, which involves other key actors such as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), Eurocontrol and the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA). In December 2020, the Joint ESA-EDA Cyber Resilience Task Force was tasked to explore new and further areas of relevance and potential cooperation or coordination. ESA is also an observer in EDA’s Cyber Ranges Federation Programme Arrangement Management Committee (PAMC).

New level of cyber cooperation

As cyber threats are constantly growing in numbers and sophistication, cyber resilience is essential to EDA and ESA stakeholders alike. Cyber-attacks can target individuals, companies and public institutions or services (e.g. energy grids, financial markets, unmanned vehicles etc.), but also democracies namely though hybrid threats. Space systems being a central link in this new intertwined security continuum, the information and data collected, managed and exchanged by ESA and EDA Member States are of critical value to Europe’s security.

Hence the need for EDA and ESA, acknowledged in today’s Exchange of Letters, to cooperate even closer to improve the cyber-resilience of space systems, notably by:

  • sharing relevant policy and technical elements to shape and orient respective activities and strengthen the partnership;
  • having EDA to act as a facilitator between ESA and EDA communities while ESA proposes to invite EDA to all Council or Sub-Committee meetings of relevance under this partnership;
  • regularly updating the list of priority cooperative avenues to be further explored, exploited and implemented. The Joint ESA-EDA cyber resilience task force will also issue a yearly implementation report;
  • exploring how EDA and ESA could expand their coordinated and cooperative approach to other key cyber security actors such as, the European Commission, the External Action Service, and namely its Space Task Force, ENISA, the European Security and Defence College, the European Cybersecurity Competence Centre and Network, the Hybrid Fusion Cell and Hybrid Centre of Excellence, or the EU Satellite Centre.

EDA Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý said: “Space and cyber defence are intrinsically linked. Therefore, it is only natural that the European Space Agency and the European Defence Agency work closely together to strengthen their respective Member States’ cyber resilience and, subsequently, Europe’s security. The new enhanced cooperation launched by today’s Exchange of Letters is another practical step towards achieving this important common goal”.  

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said: “In today’s world, space creates and relays critical data, which we need to protect. We are now facing an ever increasing dependence on space infrastructure and services, and this dependence increases the impact of these being disrupted, even from natural occurrences. This is the very reason why ESA is committed to securing its space assets as well as those of its Member States and partners from cyber interference. In doing so, we also strive to build cooperation avenues with our partners, and one such longstanding partner in cyber resilience has been EDA. »

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