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How can organisations from Romania participate in ESA programmes? The topic of an InfoDay organised by ROSA

on 29 July 2022

The Romanian Space Agency (ROSA), with the support of the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitalisation, organised an InfoDay on how Romanian entities can participate in the programmes of the European Space Agency (ESA). The event took place on Thursday, 28 July 2022, at the National Institute of Statistics. The first half of the event included presentations from Mr. Sebastian Burduja, Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitalisation and Dr. Phys. Marius-Ioan Piso, President of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA). During the second half of the event, participants could ask questions.

As Romania is an ESA Member State, Romanian organisations can take part in ESA’s tenders. These are organised by a strict set of rules defined by ESA and applied to all Member States. To support all organisations that may want to participate in an ESA invitation to tender, ROSA organised a new InfoDay edition with the purpose of disseminating information about the ESA tendering process and the programmes of the European Space Agency to which Romania is contributing.

All Romanian organisations —  such as industry, SMEs, research institutions and universities — that intend to take part in ESA programmes were invited to participate at the event. The meeting was also open to the press and the general public.

The first half of the event included presentations from Mr. Sebastian Burduja, Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitalisation and Dr. Phys. Marius-Ioan Piso, President of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA). During the second half of the event, participants could ask questions.

Sebastian Burduja reminded the fact that Romania has an outstanding payment to ESA, which has led to Romania’s voting right in the ESA Council to be suspended since 2018. In November 2022, the ESA member states will participate at the Ministerial Council, where the ESA activities for the next three years are decided. Minister Burduja considered it essential for Romania to pay the minimum sum of 63 million euro in order to participate at the Ministerial with voting rights.

“Why do I think this is an important issue? First of all because Romania’s contribution to the aerospace field is internationally recognised. We have all recently witnessed with excitement the launch of the Vega-C rocket, where Romania was present — we all saw the Romanian flag on Vega-C and I believe that was a moment of national pride, not just because the flag was there, but because we had an important contribution to this achievement”, declared Ministre Burduja.

“Secondly, we are talking about a field of smart specialisation — aerospace. Through a participatory process, Romania has defined 6 smart specialisation areas so aerospace has become an area of strategic interest for the Romanian economy and for the future of Romania.

Thirdly, we are talking about investment funds with a high multiplication factor. For each RON invested in the economy we are talking about a multiplication factor from 4 up to 12-14.

In the context of the European and global crises (...), it is easy to anticipate that we will be faced with the argument that we cannot afford to spend money on research. However, a euro spent on research and innovation is not an expense, it is an investment in the future of this country and its economy. Other states, very wisely, have chosen to allocate 3-4% of the GDP to research, our level is 0,17%.

I am fully committed as Minister for Research, Innovation and Digitisation to promote together an investment in the future, so an investment in research, to fulfill Romania's commitments and promises to international bodies and partners and, last but not least, to encourage excellence throughout the research system", concluded Minister Burduja.

The President of Romanian Space Agency (ROSA), Dr. Phys. Marius-Ioan Piso, then gave a presentation during which he addressed the most frequently asked questions and confusions about the way in which Romanian entities can participate in ESA programmes, ROSA’s role and ESA’s working model.

Here are some of the clarifications from the ROSA President, as well as some other frequently asked questions.

How is ESA governed?

ESA is governed by the Council. The Council usually meets at representative level each trimester. The Research ministers meet every 3 to 4 years to define the ESA programmes and resources for the next period. Each state has one vote in the Council, irrespective of the size of the state or its financial contribution.

How are the Romania-ESA relations defined?

Starting with 22 December 2011, Romania became the 19th Member State of the European Space Agency with full rights. The Law no. 262/2011 for ratifying the Agreement between Romania and the European Space Agency (ESA) on Romania's accession to the Convention establishing the European Space Agency, as well as the terms and conditions that apply, defines the relations between Romania and the European Space Agency (ESA). The treaty was signed on 20 January 2011 in Bucharest.

What are ROSA’s responsibilities?

The Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) is the designated authority to represent Romania in the implementation of the Treaty (Article 4) in all aspects, except the financial one. ROSA does not manage Romania’s budget for ESA.

Who is responsible for the budget allotted for the cooperation between Romania and ESA?

Starting with 2011, Romania’s financial contribution is fully covered by the state budget, through the budget for the Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport — The National Authority for Research, within the boundaries of the approved budget (Article 5, point 1).

What is the value of the contribution to ESA?

At the level of the year 2011, Romania’s financial contribution as a Member State was 5,7 million euro, representing the participation of Romanian entities in mandatory ESA programmes. An additional 3,6 million euro — paid in Romanian currency at Romania’s National Bank exchange rate on the day of the payment — represented the accession fee, according to Article 3 of the Treaty. The mandatory contribution is paid annually starting with 2012. Its value is adjusted according to methodology being applied to member states, as provisioned by article XIII, point 1 from the ESA Treaty. (Article 5, point 2)

The financial contribution for the optional ESA programmes, calculated on the basis of art. XIII point 2 from the ESA Convention, will be established by a Government decision (Article 5, point 3)

What programmes does ESA have?

ESA has two types of activities: mandatory and optional. The programmes that are carried out as part of the mandatory activities are related to the basic ESA activities. All Member States contribute to these programmes. The optional programmes are of interest to certain Member States that can freely choose which one they want to participate in.

Who decides the optional programmes in which Romania takes part?

The participation is decided according to the national strategy, implementing capacity, the possibility of being included in a certain programme, priority, scientific and industrial opportunity, cost-outcome efficiency. Preparation for participation is done at the level of programme committees and working groups that are created 9-12 months before the Ministerial Council. The programmes and the contribution level are then discussed at the Ministerial Council and approved by the ministers – in Romania’s case, the ministry that is responsible for research, at ROSA’s recommendation.

Which are the ESA programmes Romania participates in?

  • The Science Programme
  • The Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana
  • Romanian Industry Incentive Scheme (RIIS)
  • The Earth Observation Programme (EOP)
  • The Human and Robotic Exploration Programme (HRE)
  • The Navigation Programme (NAV)
  • The Space Transportation Systems Programme (STS)
  • The Telecommunications and Integrated Applications Programme (TIA)
  • The Technological Programme (TEC)
  • The Space Situational Awareness Programme (SSA)

How does ESA work?

  • An objective in a programme is broken down into components (WBS - Work Breakdown Structure)
  • After approval by the committees, the objective/components are the subject of a tender process
  • Only entities from states participating in the programme can participate (ITT – Invitation To Tender, 250 – 300 per year)
  • Bids are evaluated by the ESA Tender Evaluation Board (TEB) and the results are internally approved at ESA
  • Commercial contracts (usually fixed term - fixed price) are closed with the winning entities
  • The outcome of the respective activity is the component established by the WBS
  • All ESA funds are channelled through this mechanism
  • Member States intervene - through delegates - in programme committees
  • Through the Industrial Policy Committee, purchases are also adjusted to comply with fair return rules

Where are ESA tenders published?

ESA tenders can be accessed here.

Who can apply to an ESA tender?

Those organisations that have registered on the ESA portal and have been validated by ESA. These organisations can only participate in tenders on programmes to which their Member State contributes.

In the case of Romania, Romanian organisations registered on the ESA portal can participate in ESA calls to tenders in the optional programmes in which Romania participates.

What does ESA mean by “organisation in Romania”?

According to the ESA nationality audit, a legal entity established in Romania, which has employees of Romanian nationality, where decisions are taken in Romania, and intellectual property remains in Romania.

What is the nature of ESA contracts?

ESA contracts are commercial contracts, not funding contracts.

Starting with 22 December 2011, Romania has become the 19th ESA Member State (Law no. 262/2011). The status of a member state allows organisations in Romania, as much so as other organisations in other member states, to access the ongoing programmes. This represents an important transfer of technology and opens a highly technological market. Intellectual property is maintained at national level, playing an important role in the stability of competence in the country. Romania’s contribution represents 1,16% of the ESA budget, varying from 30 to 55 Meuro. The socio-economic multiplication factor is from 4 up to 15 euro for every euro invested. 289 organisations from Romania are currently accepted for contracts at ESA, with 100 of them having contracts ongoing. Aprox. 1100 professionals (full time equivalent) are working in Romania on ESA contacts.

2022 07 InfoDay Report Image A

2022 07 InfoDay Report Image B

Images credit: ROSA