Statutes marking the foundation of the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) were signed in Vienna, Austria, on 26 November. The treaty was signed on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Austrian Space Agency (ASA). The institute will become 'the focal point for promoting European space policy in the world,' according to ESA. 'It will identify and develop research themes relevant to European space policy, which will be used to initiate, support and promote political and societal debate to raise the public awareness of the importance of space-based infrastructures and services.' It is intended that the institute will create a virtual network of think tanks that will share knowledge and skills in order to conduct comprehensive space policy research. ESPI has been in development for 15 years, and is currently in the process of electing executives. Management will be nominated early in 2004, and the entity will move from its current location at the ASA headquarters to new offices in Vienna. Any national space administration, intergovernmental research organisation, university, institute or other national, international, governmental or non-governmental entity may become a member of the institute. Austria defeated other European countries, including France, Italy, Spain, the UK and Belgium, in the competition to host EPSI.