European Cooperating States
In 2001, ESA defined a new agreement opening up opportunities for four European states, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Romania, to participate more closely in ESA programmes.
The aim is to stimulate relations with interested European countries, to expand the overall European scientific and industrial base and to enrich ESA as a research and development organisation.
To be a candidate for this agreement, a country must be European and already have signed a Framework Agreement with ESA. The new ECS Agreement is a bilateral engagement between that country and ESA, and it allows the partner country to participate indirectly in all ESA procurements and activities.
In each case, the participation is to be defined in a five-year Plan for European Cooperating State (PECS) to be jointly agreed by ESA and the country concerned. Since 2003, ESA has signed 11 European Cooperating States Agreements with the following countries:
- Hungary, April 2003
- Czech Republic, November 2003
- Romania, February 2006
- Poland, April 2007
- Estonia, November 2009
- Slovenia, January 2010
- Latvia, March 2013
- Lithuania, October 2014
- Slovakia, February 2015
- Bulgaria, April 2015
- Cyprus, July 2016
Other countries, such as Croatia, are in discussion with ESA in order to join this status.