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There is an obvious synergy between our national programmes and European commission (EC) / ESA activities.

Programmes like STEREO enable the training of highly qualified researchers and the development of expertise. In return, this facilitates a high level of Belgian participation in H2020 or ESA projects.





Copernicus is a flagship programme of the European Union to:

  • monitor the Earth, its environment and ecosystems;
  • prepare for crises, security risks and natural or man-made disasters;
  • contribute to the EU’s role as a global soft power.

 BELSPO contact point


      This ensures a full, free and open data policy. Copernicus is driven by the user requirements to promote as much as possible the user uptake.

      The data are free but the development of value added services and applications and the marketing of the downstream services by private companies should make Copernicus a tool for economic development and a driver for the digital economy.

      The programme is structured around three main pillars.

      Space component

      ESA has developed a family of satellite missions called Sentinels specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. The first satellite (Sentinel 1A) was launched in 2014 and the goal is to ensure delivery of free and open data until at least 2030. Each Sentinel mission is based on a constellation of two satellites to fulfil revisit and coverage requirements, providing robust datasets for Copernicus Services:

      • Sentinel-1, radar imaging mission for land and ocean services;
      • Sentinel-2 multispectral high-resolution imaging mission for monitoring land, inland waters and coastal areas;
      • Sentinel-3 is a multi-instrument mission for land and ocean monitoring;
      • Sentinel-5 Precursor focussing on gases and aerosols;
      • Sentinel-4 for atmospheric monitoring and to be embarked on a Meteosat satellite;
      • Sentinel-5 to monitor the atmosphere from polar orbit aboard a MetOp satellite;
      • Sentinel-6 carries a radar altimeter to measure global sea-surface height.

      In addition to data provided by the Sentinel satellites, missions contributing to Copernicus deliver complementary data to ensure that a whole range of observational requirements is satisfied.

      Contributing Missions include missions from ESA and third party mission operators that make some of their data available for Copernicus. PROBA-V is an example of a contributing mission.

      Copernicus services

      To monitor the state of the Earth System Environment, 6 thematic services have been defined: Land monitoring, Climate change, Marine monitoring, Emergency management, Atmosphere monitoring and Security.

      In situ component

      In situ data are defined as observation data from ground-, sea-, or airborne sensors, reference and ancillary data licensed for use in Copernicus. These data are used to validate and calibrate Copernicus products. The implementation is done in two tiers:

      • tailored in situ data for each Copernicus service level;
      • cross-cutting coordination across services by the EEA.


      Copernicus on BELSPO website

      Copernicus website


      Horizon Europe

      Horizon Europe is the continuation of Horizon 2020 and represents the next research and innovation (R&I) framework programme of the European Union for the period 2021-2027. The programme is composed of 3 pillars and some horizontal action lines.  Pillar 2, "Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness", addresses the huge challenges the EU and the world are facing. The actions of pillar 2 are organized in different clusters. Research and innovation for space related technology and applications will be hosted in the cluster "Digital, Industry and Space".

       BELSPO Space Dept contact points

      The Horizon 2020 Space activities related to the flagship programmes Copernicus (Earth Observation) will be continued and complemented with activities related to the new components of the EU Space Programme.

      Horizon Europe website

      NCP Federal BE is the service of the National Contact Points (NCPs) of the Belgian federal government; their target group consists of the federal research institution and other federal actors. The aim of this service is to inform federal actors about the latest developments in Horizon Europe, to help them find suitable project partners or join a consortium, to support them in preparing a project proposal and to provide feedback on their project proposals.

      NCP Federal BE

      Horizon 2020

      Horizon 2020 was the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for the period 2014 to 2020.

      Its goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.

      Horizon 2020 Earth observation (EO) activities accompany Copernicus, the Union's Earth observation and monitoring programme.

      EO related activities are mainly hosted under the "H2020 Space" sub-programme of the "Leadership in Industrial Technologies" part of Horizon 2020.

      H2020 Space is aiming at fostering the establishment of a European space industry (including SME's and start-ups) and research community which is innovative, globally competitive and ready to develop and exploit space infrastructure and space data to meet the Union's policy and societal needs.

      Horizon 2020 enables the European space research and development community to develop innovative space technologies and operational concepts and to develop applications and services using space data for scientific, public, or commercial purposes.

      The EO related activities in H2020 Space focus on the exploitation of Copernicus and existing European space infrastructure by promoting the development of innovative products and services based on remote sensing.

      H2020 website