LETTERS: Space agency aims for more efficiency

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The Independent Online
From Mr Ian Taylor, MP Sir: I must correct what Tom Wilkie says (24 January) about the European Space Agency (ESA). The only financial crisis facing the agency is pressure from its member states to achieve efficiency gains and improvements in value for money, as member states themselves are having to do.

The ESA efficiency review, now in train, involving external consultants is part of that process. Nothing was derailed in December. Germany, Spain and the UK (together representing 45 per cent of the agency's mandatory programme expenditure) were seeking small reductions in the general and science budgets, but not in the scope of the programmes. They were outvoted by a numerical majority of others.

We believe there is important scope for improving value for money both in the ESA science and other programmes, and we will be continuing to develop that case as part of our preparations for the ESA ministerial meeting later this year.

Yours faithfully, IAN TAYLOR Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Department of Trade and Industry London, SW1

25 January