The Copernicus Climate Change, Marine Environment and Atmosphere Monitoring services will start operations in 2015. Hence, three Delegation Agreements, for the implementation and management of the services, have been signed by the European Commission and the service operators (Mercator Océan and ECMWF). In addition, the role of the European Environment Agency (EEA) was consolidated as service operator for the Land Monitoring Service and coordinator of the Copernicus in situ component. Two further Delegation Agreements were signed by the EC: one with the European Space Agency to continue developing the Space component and other with EUMETSAT for the provision of Space data and operational support.
Over the course of almost two decades, public and private organisations, universities, Space-related industry stakeholders and the European Commission have been jointly working on preparatory research and development for the Copernicus programme. The aim of these investments was to develop an autonomous and operational European Earth Observation capacity. The signature of these of delegation agreements underlines that 2015 will be a key year in the history of Copernicus: three Copernicus services (Marine, Atmosphere and Climate Change) will transition from research and development to operations.
The European Commission has selected Mercator Océan (the French centre for analysis and forecasting of the global ocean) for implementing and managing theMarine Environment Monitoring service and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) for the Atmosphere Monitoring and Climate Change services. In addition, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has signed a new Delegation Agreement with the EC to continue implementing the pan-European and local service components of Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, and coordinating the Copernicus in situ infrastructure component.
Delegation Agreements in depth
Under the Delegation Agreement signed with Mercator Océan, the EC has entrusted the management and implementation of the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring service to the French organisation with a budget of up to €144 million for its implementation over the next seven years. The service has been in development since 2009 in the framework of the EU research projects, MyOcean and MyOcean2, both coordinated by Mercator Océan. The service will become operational in April 2015.
The Copernicus Climate Change and Atmosphere Monitoring services have been delegated by the European Commission to ECMWF. ECMWF coordinated the pre-operational Atmosphere Monitoring service (underpinned by a family of R&D projects –MACC, MACC-II and MACC-III) and of one of the precursor projects of the Climate Change service (ERA-CLIM2). Following the signature of the agreements, ECMWF will be managing the Copernicus Climate Change Monitoring service (which is expected to become operational in early 2015) and the Atmosphere Monitoring service (which will be operational from April 2015). These two services represent an EU investment of €291 million over seven years.
Mercator Océan and ECMWF will be responsible for the technical coordination and procurement related to these three services, while the European Commission will retain the overall responsibility for all of the Copernicus services (Land, Marine, Emergency Management, Atmosphere, Climate Change and services for Security applications) and will continue to define the strategic priorities and objectives of the programme as a whole.
During the signature sessions, the Director General for Growth at the European Commission, Daniel Calleja, stated that "the signing of these Delegation Agreements represents another major milestone for the Copernicus programme towards reaching full operational status. The European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts and Mercator Océan are the best possible partners to implement the Copernicus services for monitoring the Atmosphere, Climate Change and the Marine Environment. Together we will develop services which will both support policy-making and stimulate the economy for the benefit of European citizens".
On the other hand, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has signed a new Delegation Agreement with the EC for the period 2014-2020 to continue coordinating the pan-European and local components of Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, which have been operational since 2011. Moreover, the EC has formalised the EEA’s responsibility for the coordination of the Copernicus in situ component; the Agency has, up to now, been coordinating the in situ component through a research and development project (GISC, for GMES In Situ Coordination). Approximately €87 million will be allocated to the EEA in respect of these delegated responsibilities.
The signing of these Delegation Agreements will make 2015 one of the major milestones in the life of the Copernicus Programme.
For further information: Copernicus website