Since the European Space Agency (ESA) geostationary data-relay satellite ARTEMIS started its operation in February 2003, ESA and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) have carried out routinely bidirectional optical link experiments between ARTEMIS and the Optical Ground Station (OGS), installed in the Teide Observatory of the IAC in the Canary Islands, Spain. The experiments aimed at characterizing statically and dynamically the performance of the optical downlinks and uplinks in different atmospheric turbulence conditions, together with the development and testing of appropriate theoretical models to predict the link performance. An overview of the OGS and additional facilities on top the IAC Teide Observatory is given, as well as a summary of the statistical results on propagation and communication for different experimental configurations, including different number of transmitting subapertures and divergence in the uplink. Key parameters, like scintillation and fade and surge statistics, are correlated with theoretical predictions and an analysis of the far field pattern is included. The results of the deep space uplink experiments between the OGS and ESA satellite SMART-1 are also presented. Finally ESA free space optical communication programs are summarised, including optical payloads on board different satellites.