The 22 countries that make up the ESA ministerial council are meeting in Paris, having committed to strengthening their funding, as the minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education told Lusa.

Elvira Fortunato said that her expectations for the meeting are “extremely positive”, especially after hearing the initial interventions of her counterparts.

“Everyone agreed to increase the budget for ESA to have autonomy, in European terms, regarding the entire area of ​​space and, with that, we can also leverage the economy and solve part of the problems we have”, said the minister.

“Right now, an investment of 115 million euros is planned for the next five years in ESA programs, but what I can tell you is that, similar to what happened with the other States, there will be increases”, said Elvira Fortunato.

An official source from Portugal Space, the Portuguese space agency, under the supervision of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, later explained to Lusa that the amount subscribed so far by Portugal is 102.7 million, and could reach 115 million during the ongoing ESA meeting.

The same source clarified that ESA subscriptions are carried out for a period of three to five years, so the subscription that is approved in Paris will only be reviewed within three years, at the ministerial council in 2025.

The minister said that “Europe has to be more ambitious” and added: “We cannot be continually depending on data or solutions that are imposed on us and sold by other states”, namely the United States and China.

On the part of Portugal, Elvira Fortunato explained that since 2016, when she reinforced her position at ESA, of which she has been a member since 2000, the country “has been increasing its financial contribution” and highlighted the strategic position, especially of the Azores, and the participation of researchers and Portuguese industry in scientific and technological development programmes.