Lessons for European Autonomy in Space from Past Pursuits of Energy Autonomy
To what extent is autonomy achievable in space policy and for that matter what can autonomy mean in an age of globalization? Decades of experience and billions worth of investments by both Europe and the USA in the energy domain provide some valuable insights to these questions. Perhaps, the most important among them is that while autonomy is ideally achievable, it also is expensive, politically risky, and hardly guaranteed. Should the EU pursue autonomy in space or should it rather seek increased degrees of interdependence? While there are manifest benefits in choosing the former, such as uninhibited access to earth orbits and enhanced and independent sources of communication, the costs associated with such a path may be prohibitive. Indeed, one must ask whether the gains outweigh the costs of investment or for that matter whether the EU can collectively afford it in the first place. If instead Europe chooses to seek enhanced interdependence, with which countries should it cooperate and how will it address the resulting vulnerabilities that may inhibit and even thwart progress? This chapter examines some of the lessons we can learn from states’ pursuit of energy autonomy and how those lessons can be applied to better understand the risks and opportunities for Europe’s decisions about its space program.