In 1993, the Flemish Science Policy Council (VRWB) published its first recommendation1 in the matter of Flemish participation in aerospace research in the framework of the ESA, based on an extensive analysis report. This recommendation obtained good response at that time. In 1997, a second recommendation2 followed, based on a subsequent report in which the evolutions since 1993 were reviewed and in which the extent to which the previous VRWB recommendations were followed up on was examined.
Partly at the initiative of Minister Van Mechelen's office, who was the then minister for science and innovation, the VRWB launched a new follow-up project in early 2004, in which data about the Flemish participation in aerospace research was updated for the period 1997-2003.
The original intention and therefore also the main part of this study consisted of reviewing what return Flanders is obtaining from the extensive federal government investments into aerospace research and what the development of the same is with respect to the previous VRWB analyses. In this regard, the matter of the participation of Flemish companies and knowledge institutions in the ESA programmes and of respecting Flemish interests is an important data item. How can we strengthen this to the maximum extent, taking into account the federal state structure? This aspect was extensively treated and elements were arrived at for a possible solution of the lopsidedness.
A second aspect which was considered was the matter of the place of the space research in the scientific and innovation system and of accountability of the large space travel budget. But this was more difficult to quantify.
Moreover, even the change in the ESA policy relating to the EU policy, the ESA-EU relation and the developments in the federal space travel policy, etc., were also included in the discussion.
The result is this study series which consists of two parts. In part I, the observations are reflected in summary and recommendations are formulated with which the VRWB mainly wishes to create a useful resource for policy discussion at the federal as well as the Flemish level. Part II reflects the analysis of available quantitative data about space research and the Flemish participation in the same, which served to support these observations and recommendations.
1 FSCP, The Flemish participation in aerospace research in the framework of the ESA, with analysis report (22 April 1993)
2 FSCP, Second recommendation concerning Flemish participation in aerospace research in the framework of the ESA, with second analysis report (26 June 1997)