Noordwijk, 30 August 2022
Dear Mrs Adriaansens,
With interest we have read the letter about the space policy and the enclosed report of the evaluation of the NSO report of the NSO evaluation that were shared with the Dutch Parliament on 15 July 2022. From SpaceNed and the region we would like to respond. We would like to discuss the next steps with you on short notice.
In your letter you write that space technology is one of the key transition tasks of the coalition agreement, such as energy, sustainability, digitalisation and the development of key technologies, and contributes to a safe and strong society. You have previously described the geopolitical factor and the increasing importance of security and strategic autonomy in your letter on strategic and green industrial policy. You also state that the growing relevance of space offers opportunities for the Netherlands in terms of competitiveness and scientific research. Space travel is relevant on several fronts: we are in full agreement with you on this. The Netherlands must continue to keep up with international space developments, so as not to risk the consequences for social safety, dependence on others in the implementation of climate policy and a weakening of the Dutch economic high-tech position. But this will not happen automatically.
You rightly point out that strengthening the technological and industrial position of the space cluster requires budgetary impulses. We embrace your call for a more integrated policy with the reassessment of the strategic priorities and an integral long-term space agenda as a starting point.
At the same time, we read your letter with mixed feelings. The Dutch commitment to the ESA Ministerial Conference in November 2022 – in terms of financial contribution and ambition – has to date not been finalised. This is despite all the preparations, such as: the space introduction visit with the sector and the region (on 30 May at Airbus NL and at ESA ESTEC), during which you were able to experience for yourself the added value and ambitions of the Dutch space sector; the fact that the Dutch sector, supported by the region and other stakeholders, drew up its own National Space Agenda at the end of 2021 as input for the new policy; and the extensive input provided by the sector for the NSO space advice as shared with your Ministry this spring. With these documents, the ambition in the coalition agreement to strengthen the space cluster and the frameworks as formulated in your recent green industry letter, there are sufficient ingredients to arrive at a clear and ambitious commitment for the ESA Ministerial Conference in the short term, and at the same time to formulate the long-term agenda in consultation with the sector and the region, and not to wait until 2023. A timely picture of the Dutch objective will give industry the opportunity to join the European consortia that are already being formed around important themes. Besides faster decision-making, ambition to invest in national projects is also a point of attention. During the visit, we shared our concerns with you about the erosion of the Dutch position because investments have been falling for years. As Minister of Industry, you have indicated that you are committed to a new industrial policy. The fact that strengthening the space cluster is explicitly mentioned in the coalition agreement, and that the sector’s poor starting position has already been acknowledged in various letters to the House of Representatives, are in our view reasons to make decisive progress now and not to lose momentum.
How to proceed? The sector would like to discuss with you as soon as possible the possible solutions and scenarios that NSO has worked out with input from the sector. Where possible, we will also help you to highlight the added value of space to other ministries.
Chairman of SpaceNed
This letter is also supported by:
InnovationQuarter, Province of South Holland, FME and the municipalities of The Hague, Noordwijk, Leiden and Delft