This agreement strengthens Latvia’s relations with ESA as the country follows Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Estonia and Slovenia in joining this status.
Latvia was the first country from the recent EU Member States to approach ESA. In March 2004, an ESA delegation visited Latvian organisations dealing with navigation and space applications. Latvia has a heritage of involvement in space and considerable experience in space technology. For example, Latvia had a role in the development of polyurethane foam insulation and heat shield ceramics (using nano-powders) used on the Buran space shuttle.
The first legal step in the cooperation was the signature of the Cooperation Agreement between Latvia and ESA in 2009. An expert ESA team visited Latvian industries and research institutes in 2010, finding that Latvian entrepreneurs and institutions were ready to be more involved in ESA’s activities.
During the coming months, ESA and Latvia will have to complete the list of projects that will be presented for approval to the relevant ESA Committees and Programme Boards, and Latvian organisations will be briefed and trained by ESA representatives.
Background on Co-operation Agreements
By Parabolic Arc
ESA has adopted a three-phase process for cooperation with other nations that includes:
- Cooperation Agreement: a pact that lays out the framework for cooperation;
- European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement: a pact that allows the cooperating nation to participate in ESA procurement; and,
- Plan for European Cooperating States (PECS) Charter: a five-year plan under which the country performs a series of activities, develops its space industry, and works more closely with ESA.
At the end of five-year PECS Charter, ESA decides whether the nation is ready for full membership. If it is, then negotiations begin. If not, the two parties can sign a second five-year PECS Charter.
The table below shows the nations with which ESA has agreements at some level.
|1.||Hungary||April 1991||April 7, 2003||1st: Nov. 5, 2003
2nd: Sept. 26, 2008
|2.||Estonia||June 26, 2007||November 10, 2009||September 22, 2010|
|3.||Slovenia||May 28, 2008||January 22, 2010||November 30, 2010|
|4.||Turkey||July 15, 2004||—||—|
|5.||Ukraine||January 25, 2008||—||—|
|6.||Latvia||July 23, 2009||March 19, 2013||—|
|7.||Cyprus||August 27, 2009||—||—|
|8.||Slovak Republic||April 28, 2010||—||—|
|9.||Lithuania||October 7, 2010||—||—|
|10.||Israel||January 30, 2011||—||—|
Note: Neither Ukraine nor Israel is considered to be on a path toward full members.