1992-2022: CELEBRATING 30 YEARS

30 years serving a European security endeavour

 

We all have a story to share. Ours started 30 years ago, in 1992, when  the WEU Ministerial Council and the Spanish government provided the location to have the Centre on the Torrejón Airbase in Spain. This was one year after the WEU Council, consisting of Foreign and Defense Ministers, made the decision to set up a satellite data interpretation Centre. Now, 30 years later, SatCen is recognized as a unique European security provider in support of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) as well as other relevant EU space and security policies and activities, maximizing synergies with EU national and international partners.

In a context characterized by an increasing offer of data and fast technology development, SatCen shall continue meeting a growing and diverse demand by delivering state-of-the-art services that keep the European Union and its citizens safe. 

MESSAGE FROM OUR DIRECTOR

Ambassador Sorin Dumitru Ducaru is the Director of the European Union Satellite Centre (SatCen) since June 2019. He has previously held the position of NATO Assistant Secretary General and Head of the NATO Emerging Security Challenges Division, as well as the positions of Romania’s ambassador to NATO, USA and to the UN in New York. He also assumed various positions in the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) such as: spokesperson of the MFA, director of the Minister’s Office and Head of the Directorate for NATO and Strategic Issues.

 

OUR STORY

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1991-1993: THE BIRTH OF AN AGENCY

1991 // POLITICAL CREATION

On 27 June 1991, the WEU Ministerial Council, consisting of Foreign and Defence Ministers, met in Vianden in Luxembourg and made the decision to set up a satellite data interpretation Centre.

On 19 November, the Council of Ministers of the WEU met in Bonn and decided to establish the Centre in Spain, on the Torrejón airbase near Madrid.

1993 // INAUGURATION OF THE WEU SATELLITE CENTRE

Inauguration of the WEU Satellite Centre by the Spanish Minister of Defence, Julian Garcia Vargas and the Secretary General of the WEU, Willem Van Eekelen. The Ministers of Defence of the WEU countries were also present.

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SatCen construction

1992 // CONSTRUCTION BEGINS

In 1992, the WEU Council of Ministers meeting at Petersburg near Bonn, envisaged the use of military units acting under the authority of WEU, for humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping and crisis management tasks, including peacekeeping operations.

The agreement between Spanish Government and the WEU was signed for the concession of the building and the terrain. 

FORMER DIRECTORS

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Barry Blades

Director WEUSC, 1991-1995

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Frank Asbeck

Director EUSC, 2005-2010

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Bernard Molard

Director WEUSC, 1996-1998

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Tomaž Lovrenčič

Director EUSC/SatCen, 2011-2014

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Fernando Davara

Director WEUSC/EUSC, 1999-2004

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Pascal Legai

Director SatCen, 2015-2019

30 YEARS IN NUMBERS

The world has changed, technology has advanced but our mission remains the same: to provide comprehensive situational awareness and to match the EU's increased level of ambition in external action and the fields of security, defence and space. 

 

These key figures reflect SatCen's growing level of activity, in line with the increased ambitions of the European Union and Member States:

VISITS TO 
SATCEN

670+ 

 First visit to SatCen (Former Western European Union) by H.E. Amb. L. J. Casanova Fernández, Spain, 30 February 1993

PRODUCTS

35k+ 

 First products came out in 1992 before the Centre's official inauguration in 1993. Just in the last decade SatCen's product output exceeded 22K, indicating a sharp increase in SatCen activities and support.

TRAININGS

 Highly qualified and dedicated personnel are SatCen's greatest asset. To keep them up to speed with new technologies, methodologies and industries, SatCen's training unit provides year-long trainings and knowledge-exchange.

 

 In-house training empowers analysts with all the relevant skills and knowledge for their professional duties, also providing spare capacities to analysts of Member States and institutions

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150+ 

STAFF

 Working in a multicultural environment. SatCen staff represents 18 nationalities across 5 different age groups, reflecting the high level of diversity among both permanent and temporary staff

CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF ACTIVITY 

On Monday 26 September 2022, the EU Satellite Centre celebrated its 30th Anniversary and Inauguration of its Extended Headquarters. 

 

This milestone event was conducted under the auspices of H.E. Pedro Sánchez, President of the Government of Spain, represented by H.E. Margarita Robles, Minister of Defence, and H.E. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission.

 

On the occasion of the anniversary celebrations, SatCen's Extended Headquarters was officially inaugurated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by H.E. Margarita Robles, H.E. Josep Borrell and SatCen Director Sorin Ducaru. 

KEYNOTE REMARK

Ambassador Sorin Ducaru

SatCen Director

KEYNOTE REMARK

H.E. Josep Borrell

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission

KEYNOTE REMARK

H.E. Margarita Robles

Minister of Defence, Spain

ANNIVERSARY VOICES

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Congratulations on SatCen's 30th Anniversary. Thank you for your invaluable work in helping the EU defend and promote its interests. Your support to the EU's intelligence communities is making Europe safer and more secure

Charles Michel

President of the European Council

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Today's visit at SatCen was an interesting experience. Your achievements are impressive – your valuable, reliable analysis of satellite data is helping the European Union and its Member States to better face the current security challenges, especially in these difficult times

Klaus Werner Iohannis

President of Romania

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Space is becoming increasingly important for our security and defence. SatCen in Madrid, plays a fundamental role by providing geospatial intelligence analysis and allowing us to monitor what is happening at the Ukrainian border and supporting our CSDP missions across the globe 

Josep Borrell

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP)

SATCEN EXHIBITION AND ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION

SatCen partners, users and stakeholders came together on Monday, 7th of November, for the opening of the SatCen exhibit in celebration of the Centre's 30th Anniversary. The event took place under the auspices of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU and of the HR/VP Josep Borrell, with the support of the General Secretariat of the Council (GSC).

The opening event included welcoming remarks by SatCen Director Sorin Ducaru and Ambassador Jitka Látal Znamenáčková, Deputy Head of the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU and Permanent Representative to the PSC. Specific keynote addresses were given by H.E. HR/VP Josep Borrell, Gen. Robert Brieger, Chairman of the EU Military Committee and Mr Xavier Paso from La Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique. The roundtable event, titled “SatCen in the Next 3 Decades: Strategic Role for the EU Security, Defence and Space Ambitions” will be moderated by Mr Daniel Fiott, from the Real Instituto Elcano, and will include the participation of Amb. Balfoort (EEAS), Adm. Bléjean (DG EUMS), Ambassador Ducaru (SatCen), Amb. van den Heuvel (Council), Mrs Papantoniou (European Commission) and Amb. Pronk (PSC Chair).

The SatCen physical exhibition will be on display at the Justus Lipsius Atrium (Council) from November 7-18th.

KEYNOTE REMARK

H.E. Josep Borrell

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Ambassador Sorin Ducaru

Director of the European Union Satellite Centre 

THE DIGITAL EXHIBITION

A first-hand view of SatCen's geospatial analysis support for a wide range of activities

SATCEN EXPLAINED

An exclusive look inside SatCen - our methodologies, technology, success stories and human assets

MONITORING THE IMPACT OF AN ANTI-SATELLITE TEST

EU SST confirmed with data from its contributing sensors the fragmentation of space object COSMOS 1408. This event is related to the anti-satellite (ASAT) test which took place on 15 November 2021. SatCen coordinated the EU SST Taskforce in charge of monitoring and communicating on this event

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CREATING A DIGITAL TWIN EARTH FOR SECURITY

THE CLIMATE-SECURITY NEXUS

SatCen works in the implementation of a Digital Twin Earth for Security, using EO resources and state-of-the-art technologies, to progress towards a new holistic GEOINT paradigm

SatCen assessed the impact of environmental phenomena on the construction of refugee camps in vulnerable regions using its GEO-DAMP platform

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TACKLING PIRACY: LOCATING A HIJACKED OIL TANKER

On 13 March 2017 a group of Somali pirates hijacked an oil tanker off the coast of Somalia with eight sailors on board. Less than 4 days later the crew was safely back on land, thanks to the EU's military operation EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta and the key support of SatCen

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AISMATCH: SHIP DETECTION TECHNOLOGY

Innovation has always been at the center of SatCen's activities. In coordination with its various divisions, SatCen has developed AISmatch: an automated system to detect ships on satellite image and correlate them with AIS data of the observed region

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SATCEN'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE STRATEGIC COMPASS

On 21 March 2022, the Council of the EU approved a new strategic milestone document for the EU Security and Defence policy.​ This document represents a major leap forward, since its implementation will make the EU a stronger and more capable security provider, not least via the establishment of a strong EU Rapid Deployment Capacity of up to 5000 troops for different types of crises, future regular and joint live exercises on land and at sea or more intelligence analysis capacities, including for the broadening range of hybrid threats. 

From a space perspective, the Strategic Compass shows the way towards a new EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence. Further commitments, which will touch our work and provide for opportunities, include greater national and joint expenditures in capabilities and strategic enablers to operate on land, at sea, in the air, in the cyber domain and in outer space.

 

SatCen is identified and quoted in the Strategic compass as a key player to enhance autonomous geospatial intelligence capacity.

OUR USERS AND PARTNERS

SatCen provides geospatial intelligence analysis in support of various and diverse actors, challenging the Centre's ability to continuously adapt to different user needs.

SatCen's main users are the EEAS and EU Intelligence Community, EU Member States, EU Agencies, EU Missions and Operations and the European Commission. Moreover, the Centre cooperates with national and international institutions in the field of space. It works closely with the European Defence Agency, the European Commission and the European Space Agency, as well as other institutions and international organizations.

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