The National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO) has welcomed back the UK’s formal participation in Copernicus and Horizon.
The EU-UK Specialised Committee on Participation in Union Programmes adopted the political agreement on the UK’s association with Horizon Europe and Copernicus in early December 2023, following a period of intensive negotiations to finalize a deal that has been on the agenda since 2019.
NCEO’s view is that this renewed participation is in the interests of all and reflects the UK EO sector’s long-held belief in international collaboration.
Copernicus is a system of satellites that support in-situ measurements and models, delivering datasets that inform researchers about the changing planet at regional and global levels.
The deal also grants access to Horizon Europe, the world’s largest research collaboration program giving UK researchers the opportunity to apply for grants and bid to join projects under the program. This includes research funds for Copernicus development and significant investments to exploit the satellite data in exciting and challenging new science.
The renewed Copernicus program enables scientific experts to contribute fully to its system of satellites and data sets, building on the intellectual and practical contributions. NCEO has been continuing to drive the UK’s access to environmental satellite data sets and models through the Earth Observation Climate Information Service (EOCIS) and Earth Observation Data Hub (EODH), and through the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT programs.
Prof. John Remedios, director of NCEO, commented, “This marks a hugely significant moment for our community in the UK, in Europe and internationally. Our involvement in Copernicus brings financial and expert contributions that will reinforce the quality and usability of a world-leading Copernicus system. Never has the need for detailed observations of our planet been greater. We at NCEO recognize that delivering trusted, high-quality, environmental information from satellites in space is our duty and our contribution to improving the lives of people and growing economies through services.
“We look forward to the next years of Copernicus and working with colleagues to realize the promise of the high-priority missions adding to the current operational backbone,” he added.