One agenda item ESA cannot postpone, however, is funding for the EPS-SG second-generation, polar-orbiting, meteorological satellite system. In 2008, one of the biggest controversies was the geo-industrial battle that ensued as France and Germany disputed who was to take the lead in developing Europe's Meteosat Third Generation (MTG-3) weather satellite system, a bidding war ESA ministers will be keen to avoid with EPS-SG, especially with potential U.K. interest in the program.
EPS-SG will be lumped into a €2.5 billion spending line that includes ESA's Earth-observation programs and elements of the European Union's Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program.
By 2014, Dordain says, the 27-nation EU will have determined its own multiyear budget for 2014-20, which will be the subject of a European summit just after the Naples meeting. The EU is struggling to resolve issues for many of the same reasons as ESA, including how to fund its commitment of €5.8 billion for GMES operations starting in 2014.
“I am told that the most difficult years for the member states are 2013 and 2014,” Dordain says. “It is always the next two years that are the most difficult.”