Peter Breger
Deputy Head of Unit, Copernicus Services
European Commission


Peter Breger has been Deputy Head of Unit for “Copernicus Services” since July 2013. This unit implements and manages the six operational services of Copernicus following the adoption of the Copernicus Regulation on 3 April 2014. Mr. Breger has been active in the Commission’s Space domain since 2002, both in the precursor of Copernicus, GMES, , in its initial phases, and in implementing the Space theme of the EU Research Framework programme.

Prior to joining the Commission as Scientific Officer in 1998, Mr. Breger worked as experimental research physicist at the Nuclear Fusion laboratory JET Joint Undertaking in UK, and as a development engineer in industry.

Mr. Breger has a doctorate in Experimental Plasma Physics from the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, a Master of Science in Atomic Physics, and an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Presentation: Copernicus: the EU’s new Earth Observation Programme

Copernicus is Europe’s flagship Earth Observation Programme, which is coordinated and managed by the European Commission (EC). It is implemented in partnership with the Member States, the European Space Agency, EUMETSAT, ECMWF, EU Agencies and Mercator Océan. The programme is designed to provide a set of European information services based on satellite Earth Observation and in-situ (non-space) data. The Copernicus Security service is one of its six thematic services, the other services covering the areas of land, marine monitoring, emergency management, atmosphere monitoring and climate change.

The Service for Security applications aims to support related European Union policies, by delivering information in response to the security challenges Europe is facing, namely improving crisis prevention, preparedness and response capacities in the following key areas:

 Border surveillance
 Maritime surveillance
 Support to EU External Actions
Border Surveillance

The objective of this Service is to support the European Union’s external border surveillance system, EUROSUR, an initiative based on an EU-level approach to reinforcing Member States’ control over the Schengen border. The objective is to help reducing the number of incidents related to illegal immigration (e.g. death at sea) by improving the intelligence available to coast and border guards as well as port authorities and law enforcement agencies, also with the use of satellite imagery.

Copernicus is working with Frontex and other relevant actors (such as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), for Maritime Surveillance and the European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC), for land borders monitoring). A joint Concept of Operations (CONOPS) reinforces cooperation between key players, such as Frontex, Member States’ National Coordination Centres, EMS , EUSC, and the European Commission, but also with the Industry, on the provision of satellite observations and its integration into operational systems run by FRONTEX and National authorities.

Border Surveillance services entered a pre-operational phase in early 2013 with the launch of two FP7 projects: SAGRES, which focuses on validating the highly time-critical EUROSUR components (vessel tracking) and LOBOS, which addresses the validation of less time-critical services (monitoring of ports, coasts and pre-frontier land areas). The provision of operational services is expected to commence, under the aegis of Frontex, as from March 2015.

For more Information on current activities: ;

Maritime Surveillance

The extension of the EU maritime domain and the number of Member States with coastal or maritime jurisdiction (23 out of 28) presents a challenge to surveillance operations. The challenge is significantly increased when considering also EU economic activities across global oceans, such as transport and fisheries.

Maritime Surveillance services are designed to support efforts to tackle piracy, drug trafficking, illegal fishing activities or dumping or toxic waste, and to contribute to safer maritime transport also in remote areas. Improved maritime surveillance through complementary observations from space can act as a deterrent for illegal actions and contribute to reduce the economic toll of illegal activities and related accidents at sea, while improving the planning of conventional patrolling operations.

Several R&D and demonstration paved the way for the definition of Copernicus services in Maritime Surveillance. These include FP7 funded activities such as the DOLPHIN, NEREIDS, and SIMTISYS projects, or the MARISS project funded by ESA, which have contributed to engage the maritime community in the usage of space-borne data and related services.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) currently provides operational maritime safety services and Copernicus related services will be operated by the Agency as a natural extension of their current capacities as from March 2015.

For more Information on current activities:

Support to EU External Action

As a global actor, Europe has a responsibility to promote stable conditions for human and economic development, human rights, democracy and fundamental freedoms. In this context, the key objectives are to assist non-EU countries in situations of crisis or emerging crisis, for instance by undertaking peacekeeping operations or to assess risks for global and trans-regional threats leading to destabilisation.

Copernicus services can provide rapid, on-demand geospatial information for the detection and monitoring of events or activities outside Europe that may have implications in European and Global Security. That information, based also on space-born data, will contribute to improve situational awareness and, consequently, the European capacities in crisis prevention, preparedness and response, including monitoring of critical infrastructure targets.

To test and validate services in this area, the European Commission has funded two projects under the FP7 Research Framework Programme for the period 2013-14: G-NEXT, providing pre-operational Services and G-SEXTANT, aimed at bringing technology to a level of maturity allowing operational deployment. It is expected that services will be fully operational in 2015, with a lead role expected to be assigned to the European Union Satellite Centre in close coordination with the Industry and the Emergency Management Service.

For more Information on current activities: