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Speaker Biographies

More information about the speakers will be available shortly.


* indicates speakers to be confirmed


Paul Weissenberg

Paul Weissenberg

Deputy Director General, DG Enterprise & Industry, European Commission


Dr Paul Weissenberg, born 1947, studied law in Germany and earned a PhD (Docteur en droit) in European law at the University of Geneva.

Dr Weissenberg was Head of Cabinet of Dr Bangemann, European Commission Vice-President, before taking over the Single Market Directorate in charge of automotive and pharmaceutical legislation from 2000 to 2005.

Until 2010, he was in charge of the Directorate for Aerospace, GMES (earth observation), Security and Defence.

In 2011, he took over, as Deputy Director General, the Directorate of Space, Security and GMES, and is in charge of the Galileo programme.

Claus Sørensen

Claus Sørensen

Director-General of DG ECHO, European Commission


- Master of Economic Science (University of Aarhus)

- Lecturer at the Aarhus School of Architecture (1975-77)

- Lecturer at the University of Copenhagen (1978-81)

- Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Copenhagen: International monetary
questions, CAP (1977-81)

- First Secretary at the Danish Delegation to OECD, Paris: Chairman of the W.P.
of the Trade Committee, Representative to the Economic and Development
Review Committee, UNCTAD V & VI (Belgrade, Geneva, New York) (1981-84)

- Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Copenhagen: International trade and
finance (1985-87)

- Counsellor at the Danish Permanent Representation, Brussels (1988-89)

- Member of Commissioner Henning Christophersen’s Cabinet: Maastricht
Treaty, Financial Institutions, International Economic Affairs, Environment,
Internal Market, Social & Labour Market Policy (1990-94)

- Member of Commissioner Anita Gradin’s Cabinet: Fight against fraud,
organised crime, corruption, IGC-96, Foreign Relations, Enlargement, Social &
Labour Market Policy, Agriculture, Fisheries (1995-99)

- Head of Unit of International affairs, trade and environment, DG Environment,
European Commission (1999)

- Head of Cabinet, Commissioner Nielson’s Cabinet: Development, ECHO

- Director, DG Environment, Directorate E – International Affairs (2003-2004)

- Head of Cabinet, Commissioner Fischer Boel’s Cabinet : Agriculture and Rural
Development (2004-15.1.2006)

- Director-General DG Communication (16.1.2006- 30.06.2011)

- Director-General DG Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (1.07.2011 - )

Jean-Claude Thébault

Jean-Claude Thébault

Director General, Bureau of European Policy Advisers


Jean-Claude Thébault is Director General of the Bureau of European Policy Advisers within the European Commission. Prior to that, he served as Deputy Secretary General and as Principal Adviser and then Deputy Head of the Cabinet of President Barroso (2004-2009). Within the EC he occupied several posts since 1984, namely he was Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Commissioner de Silguy (1995-2000); Director of the Forward Studies Unit directly attached to the President of
the Commission (in 2000) and Director responsible for Financial Institutions within DG MARKT (2000-2004). Before joining the Commission, he worked in the "Caisse des Dépôts et consignations", SINORG and other.

Elisabetta Gardini

Elisabetta Gardini

Member, European Parliament


Member of

ENVI Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety
D-RUDelegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee

Substitute of

ITRE Committee on Industry, Research and Energy
D-US Delegation for relations with the United States

Elisabetta Gardini is the Rapporteur in the new civil protection legislation that is currently being debated in the ENVI committee.

Curriculum vitae

-Secondary school-leaving certificate in classical subjects. Vittorio Gassman 'Bottega teatrale di Firenze' diploma.
-Theatre and TV actress; RAI TV presenter; theatre producer (1981-2004).
-National spokesman for Forza Italia (2004-2008).
-Member of Veneto Regional Council (2005-2006); Deputy leader of Forza Italia; member of the committee on culture (2005-2006). Member of the Italian Parliament; secretary of the Committee on social affairs and member of the Committee on elections (2006-2008).
-Member of the European Parliament: member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety; substitute member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs; member of the Delegation to the EU-Russia joint parliamentary committee and of the Delegation to the EU-Croatia joint parliamentary committee (2008-2009).

Michel de Rosen

Michel de Rosen

Vice-Chair, ESOA & CEO, Eutelsat


Michel de Rosen, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member, Eutelsat Communications – joined Eutelsat Communications in July 2009 and was appointed Chief Executive Officer in November 2009. He is also a board member of Eutelsat Communications.

His career has included Chief Executive positions in international publicly traded groups and senior public service appointments.

He began his career in France in the Inspection générale des finances in the Ministry of Finance. He was Chargé de Mission in the office of the Ministry of Defence from 1980 to 1981 and from 1986 to 1988 was Chief of Staff of the Minister of Industry and Telecommunications.

Between 1983 and 1999 he held executive positions at Rhône-Poulenc, including CEO of Pharmuka from 1983 to 1986, CEO of Rhône-Poulenc Fibers and Polymers from 1988 to 1993, and CEO of Rhône-Poulenc Rorer (USA) from 1993 to 1999. From 2000 to 2008 he was Chairman and CEO of ViroPharma in the USA. He returned to France in 2008 to the position of Chairman and CEO of SGD.

Michel de Rosen is a graduate of the HEC business school and France’s National School of Administration (ENA - EcoleNationaled'Administration). He is also a Board member of ABB.

He is married with four children

Alain Ratier

Alain Ratier

Director-General, EUMETSAT


Born in 1958 in France, Mr. Alain Ratier studied mathematics and sciences, graduating from Ecole Polytechnique in 1981 and from the French National School of Meteorology in 1983. He also earned a Master degree in oceanography from the Paris VI University.

Mr. Ratier’s professional career has developed at the cross-road of meteorology, oceanography and Earth observation from space.

After joining the French Meteorological Service in 1983, he spent 5 years in R&D activities on modelling of the upper ocean and air-sea interactions. In a first encounter with satellites, he developed data assimilation techniques enabling the French numerical weather prediction models to ingest sea surface temperature and wind observations from space-borne sensors. In parallel, he became rapidly exposed to operational responsibilities, as the head of the marine forecast service, and to the management of space projects, through his involvement in the development of the CERSAT Processing and Archiving Facility for the ESA European Remote Sensing (ERS) satellites.

During his secondment to the French Space Agency (CNES), from 1987 to 1996, Mr. Ratier contributed to expanding the scope of the French Earth observation programme to atmospheric, oceanographic and climate sciences, gaining approval of POLDER, an imaging polarimeter flown on the Japanese ADEOS satellites to study cloud-aerosols-radiation interactions, Jason, the follow on mission to Topex-Poseidon, and the IASI infrared sounder flown aboard the Metop series. As a programme manager, he organised interactions with the user communities and managed cooperation with international partner agencies in Europe, the USA, Japan, and Russia. In 1994, Mr. Ratier was appointed associate director for Earth observation programmes. In this period he has represented France at ESA (PB-EO), relevant EC committees and the CEOS plenary.
In 1996, Mr. Ratier was selected as the Director of Programme Development of EUMETSAT and deputy to the Director-General, Dr. Tillmann Mohr. In this capacity, he guided the development of the Meteosat Second Generation and EUMETSAT Polar System programmes, the initial deployment of the distributed network of Satellite Application Facilities and the EUMETSAT contribution to Jason-2. He was also the architect of the user-driven process established for the definition of requirements for future EUMETSAT programmes, starting with Meteosat Third Generation.
In 2004, Mr. Ratier returned to Météo-France, as deputy director-general. In this post, he directly supported the Chairman and CEO in all strategic and management matters, with delegated responsibility for services to government - including all missions in support of safety of life and property, defence, environment – air navigation services, international relations, space matters and supervision of high power computing projects.

On 1 December 2010, the EUMETSAT Council elected Mr. Ratier as the new Director-General of the organisation, with effect on 1 August 2011.


2011 – to date: Director-General of EUMETSAT
2004 - 2011: Deputy Director-general, Météo-France
1996-2004: Director of Programme Development and Deputy Director General, EUMETSAT
1994 - 1996: Associate Director for Earth Observation Programmes, CNES
1993-1994: Head, Earth and Environment Sciences Division, CNES
1992: Deputy head, Earth and Environment Sciences Division, CNES
1988-1991: Manager for ocean-atmosphere programmes, Earth and Environment Sciences Division, CNES
1987-1988: Deputy manager for space meteorology/oceanography, in charge of space oceanography, CNES
1983-1987: R&D team leader, ocean data assimilation and air-sea interactions, Météo-France
1983-1984: Head of Marine Forecasting, Forecasting Division, Météo-France

Paul Margie

Paul Margie

US Representative, Télécoms Sans Frontières


Paul Margie is the U.S. Representative for Télécoms sans Frontières, the world’s leading emergency telecommunications NGO. Paul is also a partner with the law firm of Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, where he focuses on telecommunications and technology law. Previously, he led the Vodafone Foundation-United Nations Foundation partnership to use mobile technology for public health and emergency response. Prior to that, Paul served as Legal Advisor to U.S. Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Michael J. Copps, and as Legislative Counsel and then Senior Commerce Counsel for U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV.

Mr. Margie is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University where he teaches communications law, Co-Chair of the Federal Communications Bar Association's Wireless Communications Committee, a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Sub-Committee on International Disaster Response, and a member of the Board of Directors of DataDyne. From 2008-2011 he served as the Co-Chair of the U.S. Advisory Committee on the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), and he is a certified VSAT installer.

Mr. Margie received his law degree from the University of Chicago, with honors. He was the Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago Legal Forum. Mr. Margie received his B.A. from Haverford College, with honors. Chambers USA and US News and World Report/Best Lawyers both rank Mr. Margie as one of the leading telecommunications lawyers in the U.S

Magali Vaissiere

Magali Vaissiere

Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, ESA


Since Sept 2005 at the European Space Agency

Since June 2008
Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications

Sept 2005-May 2008
Head of Telecommunications Department

mid 2002-2005
EADS-Astrium - Civil Institutional Marketing Manager

mid 2000- mid 2002
EADS-Astrium - R&D & Product Strategy Division Manager in the Telecommunications Satellites Business Unit

mid 98 - mid 2000
Head of the Satellite Network Engineering

1996-mid 98
Telecommunications System engineering activities

Until 1995
Matra-Marconi-Space - Responsible for R&D coordination

September 1990
Joined Matra Espace

Thomson – CSF Radars
Signal processing engineer, then radar system engineer and
eventually responsible for a common products department

1995: Centre de Perfectionnement aux affaires – Executive MBA

1980-81: University of Stanford: Master of Sciences in Electrical Engineering

1977-80: Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications de Paris

«Lauréate du prix Irène Joliot-Curie 2007 – parcours femme entreprise-» (French Ministry of Research)

«Membre du Haut Conseil de la Science et de la Technologie» (French Ministry of Research)

Aarti Holla-Maini

Aarti Holla-Maini

Secretary General, ESOA


Aarti Holla-Maini, has substantial experience in the aerospace industry, in particular in satellite business strategy and legal aspects of technological development. Previously she represented Galileo Industries, the joint venture company of EADS Astrium, Alenia Spazio, Alcatel Space and Galileo Systemas y Servicios in Brussels, where she worked closely with European Institutions on the development of the public private partnership scheme and management aspects of the Galileo programme.

Ms. Holla-Maini started her career in the aerospace industry at DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (now EADS) in Munich, Germany. Responsibilities included posts in the Project & Trade Finance Department and in the Space Strategy Division. She went on to become project manager for a new digital audio broadcast venture that was being evaluated by EADS at the time before making the move to Brussels in 2000 to Galileo Industries.

Ms. Holla-Maini holds an MBA from HEC in France, a diploma in German law from the University of Passau, Germany and a law degree from King's College at the University of London. She has regularly given workshops on negotiation skills for young managers. She qualified as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court in London in 1995, working with the law firm of Pannone Pritchard Englefield. She lives in Brussels and speaks five languages.

Olaf Acker

Olaf Acker

Partner, Booz & Co.


Olaf Acker is a partner with Booz & Company and a member of the firm’s Communications, Media, and Technology practice. He has over 14 years of management consulting and industry experience serving clients in Europe, North America, and the Middle East. Olaf primarily works with clients in the telecommunications, media, and technology industries, focusing on large-scale technology transformation programs.

Mr Acker has extensive project experience in the satellite industry across Europe and the Unites States. Project examples are the transformation of the operating model of a global satellite operator, the strategic transformation of the technology units of a major European mobile operator or the development and implementation of a group technology strategy for a Middle East telco conglomerate.

He holds a master's degree from the University of Wuerzburg (Germany), with emphasis on business computing, marketing, and English language studies; he also attended the executive education program at the London Business School.

Graham Peters

Graham Peters

Director, Avanti Consulting


I have over 20 years experience in the satellite industry across the value chain covering satellite design, operations, software / simulation, EEE parts procurement and satellite applications. My strongest skill is in the management of complex bids and proposals. I particularly enjoy the creation of research and innovation projects that explore new applications and services that use satellite capabilities.

Cato Halsaa

Cato Halsaa

Vice-Chairman, ESOA


Cato Halsaa, Vice President and CEO, Telenor Satellite Broadcasting AS (TSBc) – joined TBSc in 1999 and has served as CEO since June 2001. He has been instrumental in managing the growth of TSBc beyond the Nordic region. In the past few years 1°West, from which TSBc operates has become one of the fastest growing broadcast platforms, delivering services to nearly 17 million households throughout Europe. TSBc operates four satellites from its satellite control center at Fornebu (Thor2, Thor3, Thor5 and Thor6). Cato Halsaa was also Chair of the Board of T-VIPs AS of Oslo from 2006-2010.

Before joining Telenor, Mr. Halsaa served as Senior Vice President Satcom Division at Nera ASA. He was Managing Director for EB Communications (PTE. Ltd.) in Singapore from 1985-88.

Mr. Halsaa received his Master of Business Administration from University Erlangen-Nürnberg 1970 and Program for Management Development at Harvard Business School in 1983.

Dr Wlodzimierz Lewandowski

Dr Wlodzimierz Lewandowski

CCTF Group on GNSS Time Transfer Standards (CGGTTS), BIPM


Włodzimierz Lewandowski. Master degree in geodetic science from the Warsaw Polytechnic, and the Ph.D. degree in space geodesy science from the French Geographical Institute (IGN).
He is employed since 28 years at the International Office of Weights and Measures (BIPM), where as a Principal Physicist at the Time Section he takes part in the evaluation and diffusion of the international time scale UTC. He is engaged in research on the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) time transfer, Two-Way time transfer, and time scale algorithms.
He is secretary of the Consultative Committee on Time end Frequency (CCTF) Working Groups on Two-Way and GNSS time transfer standards, and European Commission expert for Galileo. He is a member of the Scientific Committee of Polish Space Research Centre (SRC) and of the American Institute of Navigation (ION). Since 1988 he is a member of the Civil GPS Service Interface Committee (CGSIC), where he chairs the Timing Subcommittee.

Roya Ayazi

Roya Ayazi

Secretary General, NEREUS


Roya Ayazi heads since 2009 the Brussels based permanent secretariat of the NEREUS-network (Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies). The network’s mission is focused on spreading the use and understanding of space technologies. As Secretary General she is the association’s key interlocutor at EU-level and responsible for advocacy on matters of space uses and promoting the network. Since NEREUS is a young organisation her role involves in particular establishing regions and their actors as active space stakeholder and ensuring that EU-space policy and programs are shaped for their needs. While implementing the strategic objectives of the network set out in annual work programs, she coordinates NEREUS which comprises 26 European regions and 39 Associate Members ranging from industry companies, relevant research organisations and universities. She studied law at the Free University of Berlin/Germany and worked prior to her current position almost 10 years in European affairs.

Jean-Jacques Tortora

Jean-Jacques Tortora

Secretary General, Eurospace


Jean-Jacques Tortora currently serves as the Secretary General of ASD-Eurospace, which is the trade association of the European Space Industry.

From 2004 to mid 2007, he was head of the French Space Agency (CNES) office in North America and the Attaché for Space and Aeronautics at the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C.

Previously he was Deputy Director for Strategy and Programs, responsible for the Industrial Strategy of CNES, the French Space Agency.

From 1998 to 2000, Mr. Tortora was adviser to the French Ministry of Research for Industrial Policy and France’s representative in the ESA Industrial Policy Committee and Joint Communication Board.

From 1990 to 1998, he was appointed by Arianespace as Ariane 4 Operations Quality manager first Kourou (French Guiana), then in Evry (France).

Claudio Murri

Claudio Murri

Managing Director, Public Policy, Time Warner


Claudio Murri is a business executive with over 25 years of experience in Public Policy and Government Affairs. He is presently responsible for leading the Brussels-based Time Warner team in its efforts to secure a European public policy environment that allows the company and its divisions to continue to grow. In this capacity, he works with administrations, political institutions and industry organizations at EU level and supports equivalent activities at country level.

From 2004 to 2007, Claudio was Chairman of the Board of the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU (AmCham EU).

Born and raised in Italy, Claudio has lived and traveled extensively across Europe, North America and Asia. Before joining Time Warner, he worked for Oracle, Electronic Data Systems and for the IBM Corporation, covering various positions in Communications and Government Affairs in Italy, Japan, and Belgium.

Giuseppe Viriglio

Giuseppe Viriglio

Vice-President, Eurospace


Giuseppe Viriglio graduated in Aerospace Engineering from Politecnico di Torino University in 1971. He then completed a Master’s in Business Administration at Turin University, as well as a number of technical and scientific specialisation courses in Europe and the US.

He joined FIAT in 1971, before moving to the newly formed AERITALIA.

Between 1973 and 1976, he was involved in the SPACELAB programme, the first European programme for pressurised modules, initially as head of Project Control and later as head of the programme and other associated programmes.

In 1980, he was put in charge of the management of all of AERITALIA’s space programmes, before becoming Director of Programmes in 1984 and Vice Director of the Space Systems Group in 1988.
During this time, he was heavily involved with the scientific community charged with developing the equipment and scientific satellite missions for which Alenia was responsible.

In 1991, he was appointed Vice General Manager of Alenia Spazio, before being promoted to General Manager in 1995.

He became head of ALENIA AEROSPAZIO’s Space division in 1997. In 2000, he was appointed interim General Manager

ALENIA SPAZIO SpA was formed to gather together all the activities of Finmeccanica SpA in the space and stratospheric systems sector, and the company took over the activities relating to Finmeccanica’s Space division, which had been operating as part of Alenia Aerospazio.

Alenia Spazio became the largest company in Italy, with turnover of EUR 2000 billion and links to the most important companies in Europe and around the world.
Alenia Spazio headed up or played a prominent role in a plethora of international programmes, including the

International Space Station, space exploration, scientific research, global telecommunication networks such as Globastar and Iridium, and global observation and recording systems. Alongside these programmes, significant advanced research activities were also developed into processing and managing data, not to mention micro-electronics and nano technology, which are connected to the construction of aerospace infrastructure.

This enabled Alenia Spazio to position itself among the leaders in European research, with hundreds of patents filed during the period.
Thousands of people are employed in R&D activities, even though these remained within a strictly industrial
context in terms of the management of resources and profit linked to global management.

In 2004, he was appointed Vice Chairman of ALENIA SPAZIO SpA and Associate CEO of GALILEO INDUSTRIES, a company created in co-operation with the major European industries for the development of the European navigation system.

In June 2004, he left ALENIA SPACE to head up Industrial Programmes and Relations with the European Union at the European Space Agency (ESA) in Paris, where he also took on the role of co-ordinating research both at ESA and for joint programmes with the European Commission. In this capacity, he gave the green light for important Commission programmes such as the GALILEO satellite navigation programme, broadband telecommunication systems and observation systems linked to the GMES programme, which are currently nearing completion.

At the end of 2008 he rejoined Finmeccanica, taking on roles such as Chairman and member of the Board of Directors of major companies and consortia.

He has many publications on the economic, managerial and political aspects of the space sector to his name.

Augusto Gonzalez

Augusto Gonzalez

Head of Unit, Space Policy Coordination Unit, DG ENTR, European Commission


Augusto González is the Head of Unit "Space Policy and Coordination" in the Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry (DG ENTR). He joined the European Commission in 1989. As an official he worked in different areas including education, human resources, financial management and space policy. He has held management positions since 2003 and was appointed to his current position in April 2010. He graduated in History and holds a Master's degree in International Relations.

Chris Forrester

Chris Forrester

Editorial Director, Inside Satellite TV


Chris Forrester is a well-known broadcasting journalist and industry consultant. He reports on all aspects of broadcasting with special emphasis on satellite, the business of television and emerging applications.

He has a unique knowledge of the international broadcasting scene, having interviewed at length – and frequently - the operational heads of many of the main TV channels and pay-TV platforms, as well as those running the satellite companies. He has written extensively on the subject of 3D, both for broadcast and the cinema. He has covered in depth the Super HD and Ultra HDTV development work undertaken by NHK Japan.

His daily news output can be read on, as well as on the Dow Jones Factiva service.

For some ten years until 2002 he was Editor of specialist newsletter Interspace, and Contributing Editor for Inside Digital TV. In 2002 he took on the editorship of Satcoms Insider, and its successor Inside Satellite TV, the highly-regarded specialised newsletter for the digital broadcasting industry. He is also European Contributing Editor for, the leading industry on-line monthly.

Mercedes Bresso

Mercedes Bresso

First Vice-President, Committee of the Regions


Mercedes Bresso was born in San Remo, Italy. She holds a PhD degree in Economics and Commerce. Before she started her political career, she was University Professor in Economics, most recently in Turin Polytechnic.​

From 1985 to 1995 she was elected to the Regional Council in Piedmont. After that she was elected President of the Turin Provincial Council, and in 1998 she joined the Committee of the Regions and its Bureau.

From 2004 to 2005 she held a mandate in the European Parliament. Post her mandate in the European Parliament she held the position as President of the Piedmont Regional Council until 2010.

Currently, she is regional councillor of Piedmont. She has also served as President of the World Federation of United Cities (UTO), Coordinator of the World Associations of Cities (CAMVAL), President of Metrex, a network of European metropolitan areas, and President of the Association of Elected Representatives from mountainous areas (AEM).

In February 2010, Mercedes Bresso was elected as the first female President of the Committee of the Regions and she became also Co-president of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM). Since August 2012 she is the 1st Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions.

Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards

Sales Director, Defence Solutions, AEP Networks


Mr Edwards's biography will appear here shortly...

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Thursday 27 September, 2012
09.30 to 16.00




The Committee of the Regions

B√Ętiment Jacques Delors
Rue Belliard 99-101
B - 1040 Brussels

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