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Slovenia to become a full member of the European Space Agency

Prime Minister Robert Golob and European Space Agency (ESA) Director General Josef Aschbacher have signed an agreement that will see Slovenia become a full member of ESA on 1 January 2025, when the current Association Agreement expires.

Slovenia to become a full member of the European Space Agency | Author Daniel Novakovič/STA

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The Accession Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and ESA to the Convention for the Establishment of a European Space Agency and the related conditions was signed by Prime Minister Robert Golob following the mandate given by the Government at its 105th regular session on 30 May 2024.

On the occasion, Prime Minister Golob said, "I would like to express my sincere gratitude to both teams, the ESA team and our team, for completing this important preparatory act. Once signed, the real work begins. Slovenia may not be the biggest or the richest country, but it can certainly compete with exceptional ideas." Mr Golob also said that Slovenia would actively participate and contribute with its knowledge, experts and innovative approaches: "If we want to be competitive on a global and EU level, space technology is one of the key areas. I would also like to thank ESA, which is at the centre of these efforts." "I look forward to contributing meaningful work that will benefit not only Slovenia and ESA, but also humanity as a whole. That is what space technology is all about," Prime Minister Golob concluded.

"The Slovenian space sector is made up of brave enthusiasts. The saying 'the sky is the limit' does not apply to them. Indeed they know no limits: they are setting goals that go beyond the limits known to mankind. They are pushing the boundaries of our society. I am proud of how far we have come together. I am confident that we will take full advantage of our ESA membership to take Slovenia even further into space," said the Minister of the Economy, Tourism and Sport, Matjaž Han, whose ministry is responsible for overseeing the Slovenian space sector and the Slovenian Space Office, which successfully concluded the negotiations for Slovenia's full ESA membership.

ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher said, "It has been quite an impressive journey since the first Cooperation Agreement concluded 15 years ago. This signature is a key milestone not only for Slovenia but also for ESA, which proves to be still attractive, 50 years after its creation, and thanks to the transformation undertaken to adapt it to current expectations and challenges."

Mr Aschbacher went on to emphasise, "Today's signature is a sign of the lasting commitment of successive Slovenian governments to space activities and the joint efforts of the Slovenian Space Office, as part of the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport, and ESA groups in different directorates. These efforts have proven quite fruitful in terms of success stories. This is the beginning of a new era. I wish Slovenia every success in the integration into the ESA and the European space supply chain."

While the full membership of the Republic of Slovenia brings advantages and new opportunities, it also entails additional staff commitments. It will also open the door for Slovenian companies to participate in programmes in which the Slovenian space sector has not been able to yet. These are two programmes that form the core of ESA: the Basic Technology Research Centre and the Science Programme. The opportunity to participate in these programmes shows the maturity of the Slovenian space sector. It enables equal cooperation with other ESA Member States in crucial decision-making processes, while also affirming Slovenia's fulfilment of ESA's rigorous criteria for full membership. Full membership also brings additional staff commitments, as Slovenia will now participate in all key ESA bodies. Under the Convention, ESA operates in accordance with well-designed and efficient administrative procedures. The Agency now includes 23 full Member States, the Cooperating State of Canada and three Associate Members and maintains four cooperation agreements with EU Member States and the European Commission.

Slovenia's full membership will undoubtedly increase its visibility as a major player in the international space community. This will also enable Slovenian companies to upgrade their cooperation with companies from other ESA members and acquire new commercial projects. The annual full membership fee that Slovenia will now be required to pay will be calculated on the basis on the country's GDP share. Similarly to the contributions to the optional ESA programmes that Slovenia already pays, this fee will be returned to Slovenia through projects involving our companies and institutions in the Basic Technology Research Programme and the Science Programme. In addition to the membership fee, Slovenia will also pay a one-time fee of 1.7 million euros upon joining.

The Accession Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and ESA to the Convention for the Establishment of the European Space Agency and related conditions, which was signed by Prime Minister Golob at ESA's headquarters in Paris, will be submitted to the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia for ratification after the signing.