Latvia Signs European Cooperating State Agreement with ESA


Flag_of_LatviaRIGA, Latvia (ESA PR) — Latvia becomes the seventh country to sign the European Cooperating State Agreement with ESA.

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:

  1. Cooperation Agreement: a pact that lays out the framework for cooperation;
  2. European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement:  a pact that allows the cooperating nation to participate in ESA procurement; and,
  3. 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.

Nation Cooperation
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.