“Our goal is to become a hub for the Spanish aerospace and defence industry”.


Joan Clos, Commissioner of the Space & Defense Industry Sevilla Summit for the second consecutive year, was Minister of Industry, Tourism and Trade of the Spanish Government between 2006 and 2008. Between 2008 and 2010, he served as Spanish ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan. He has subsequently served as Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Executive Director of UN-Habitat (2010-2017).

A doctor by training, he was also Mayor of Barcelona between 1997 and 2006, President of the international network Metropolis (1998), President of the United Nations Advisory Committee for Local Authorities (2000-2007) and member of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (1997-2003), among other notable posts.

– What are the main topics to be addressed at the 2023 edition of the Space & Defence Sevilla Summit?

The summit will be an in-depth conversation about the necessary boost to the existing aerospace and defence ecosystem. The Summit will also analyse the main challenges currently facing the defence and aerospace sectors, such as the incorporation of artificial intelligence, the improvement of financing formulas, the role of cybersecurity in global geopolitics and the link between space and everything related to defence.

The summit aims to create an important community of companies and institutions that will eventually form a hub in Spain. This edition will begin by addressing the importance of creating a powerful Spanish defence and aerospace industry that is part of the country’s defence strategy and that can be competitive on a global level, participating in European programmes. The importance of the coming years for the development and consolidation of this strategy will also be discussed.

Other topics highlighted include the importance of joint action by defence, industry and science as key axes for greater efficiency; the current momentum of young Spanish companies, the Spanish Space Agency as an opportunity for economic growth and national value, and the essential pairing of space and defence, as well as security and resilience in connectivity.

The summit, co-organised by Fibes, has broad backing from the private sector, with Escribano Mechanical & Engineering as strategic collaborator; GMV, Hisdesat, Hispasat, Indra, Grupo Oesía, GDELS-Santa Bárbara Sistemas, SAPA Placencia and Urovesa in the role of global partners, and PLD Space and Sateliot as collaborators, among others.


“In the current geostrategic context, it is a priority for the Spanish defence and aerospace industry to establish alliances and joint plans, both at national and pan-European level, but there must also be mergers, acquisitions and corporate operations to facilitate the scale required by our industry.


-What is your vision of the current scenario of the Spanish defence and aerospace industry? Is it on a par with other European OTAN member states?

Spain is shaping a map of strong defence companies, capable of competing with the European giants in the sector and of participating on equal terms in European space and defence programmes. In the current geostrategic context, it is a priority for the Spanish defence and aerospace industry to establish alliances and joint plans, both at national and pan-European level, but there must also be mergers, acquisitions and corporate operations that facilitate the scale required by our industry.

All of this is obviously not at odds with the existence of an excellent group of companies that, specialising in specific areas with significant technological development of their own, give shape to an ecosystem that is as necessary as it is efficient when it comes to meeting the needs of our national defence system and developing an intense export activity.

The Space & Defense Industry Sevilla Summit will therefore address the need for a firm commitment in our country for investment in technology applied to space and defence (AI, cybersecurity…) from a European and international perspective, in order to boost the value of Spain in a global context of growth. All of this while boosting job creation, attracting the necessary funding and maintaining the focus on research.


-Do you see the government’s target for the defence budget to reach 2 per cent of GDP by 2029 as plausible?

Reaching this target will require a high level of effort between 2026 and 2029 in a difficult European economic situation. However, the commitments are there to be fulfilled and, furthermore, many of the other European countries are also in a similar situation to Spain: they still do not reach the 2% percentage. The necessary increase in the defence budget requires other additional measures, among which I would highlight the creation of a new legal framework that establishes the general lines and conditions for financing our aerospace and defence sectors, in order to make it possible to confront the geostrategic framework in which we have been operating since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an event that has marked a turning point for democratic countries, especially for OTAN members. Translated with (free version)


-In the previous edition of the Summit, voices from the sector, and you yourself, called for the defence and aerospace industrial sector to be part of the Spanish state’s defence strategy. Has there been any progress in this regard?

Although steps are being taken in this direction, the sector’s industry is not yet considered as part of the defence strategy in our country from a formal point of view, as is the case in other European countries, which have a clear competitive advantage in having such a vision. This needs to be reversed, with greater coordination between investments, capabilities, technology, strategic defence decisions and programme delivery schedules. This is in line with the European Union’s (EU) Strategic Compass, which aims to strengthen the defence technological and industrial base of partner countries, and to boost innovation in the aerospace and defence sectors.


“The Spanish Space Agency is an important commitment to bring us up to the level of other European countries, in terms of efficiency and relevance. It already has the drafting of the National Space Plan on the table and is also going to shape a proposal for the first Spanish Space Law.


-What is your assessment of the Spanish Space Agency’s first steps? Are they going at a good pace?

The Agency is undoubtedly an important commitment to catch up with other European countries in terms of efficiency and relevance. It already has on the table the drafting of the National Space Plan, which will be fundamental in setting the roadmap for the space sector in Spain. It will also shape a proposal for the first Spanish law in this area. Let’s not forget that the Spanish Space Agency is expected to have 75 employees and to work on projects with an annual budget of around 700 million euros.


-Why a summit of these characteristics in the Andalusian capital?

Andalusia is a dynamic, entrepreneurial region undergoing a significant growth process in various fields, including aerospace and defence. I would like to highlight that in this fourth edition of the Space & Defence Industry Seville Summit we will have an important presence of the Andalusian Regional Government, with a block dedicated to the Andalusian industrial and technological strategy in these sectors. With the Summit, Andalusia and its capital city once again strengthen its role as a venue for debate on the space and defence industry, as well as its leadership in terms of innovation, technology and industry in Spain. The choice of the Andalusian capital as the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency has undoubtedly contributed to this prominence, as we have already mentioned, as well as the existence of an important cluster of aerospace and defence companies in the Andalusian Community.