Merkur: Why set-up a legal framework for space resources In Luxembourg?
Étienne Schneider: The space industry is undergoing an extraordinary evolution. As national budgets tighten, governments are increasingly seeking to involve the private sector in all aspects of space transportation and exploration, which private companies are keen to do as the commercial imperative transforms the economics of space. Greater competition and ongoing scientific discovery will lower the cost of space exploration still further. Some of today's international space laws were drawn up long ago, well before the prospect of harnessing space resources had become a realistic option. The idea of using space resources was already around when the 1967 Outer Space Treaty was concluded. The treaty bans countries from appropriating celestial, outer space bodies, including the Moon. However, no international legislation so far has set rules about ownership of metals, minerals and other resources that may be found there This legal uncertainty now needs clarification.
Investors, companies and their customers rightfully expect certainty if they are to commit sigreant resources - human, material and financial-to long-term projects. Luxembourg is the first European country,and the second country worldwide after the United States, to offer a legal framework that secures property rights for space resources. As more countries develop their own legal framework, Luxembourg is ready to join international efforts to harmonise global rules for the peaceful exploration and utilisation of space resources. Luxembourg is also enhancing cooperation with other countries, which will enable us to identify and discuss our common interests in the exploration and use of space resources.
Merkur: Do you maintain your forecasts for increasing the space sector from 1.8% to 5% of Luxembourg's GDP over the next decade?
Étienne Schneider: It is important to be ambitious in the field of space development. The space sector today already accounts for almost 2% of our GDP, one of the highest rates in Europe. I am confident that Luxembourg has the potential to double this rate in the future. Just look at all the changes over the last two decades, since the year 2000, following the involvement of American entrepreneurs like Musk, Bezos, etc., the space industry has known important developments. While these commercial developments in the space industry captured the attention of the American public, they have not always been as visible in Europe.
Besides the US, we should not forget that New Space is happening all around the world, i.e. Japan, as well as China and India. Europe has all the ingredients needed skills and talent, funding and R&D, but what Europe needs to do is stay competitive and use these ingredients to the fist. We can't afford to be too slow, otherwise we will miss out on various opportunities.