24th Oct 2016

EU in u-turn on Galileo satellite funding

Brussels has announced a u-turn on the funding of Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system, asking for full public coverage of the expenses after the chosen private investors failed to agree on financing the €4 billion, hugely-delayed project.

Pressed by some EU member states and members of the European Parliament to come up with an alternative solution, the European Commission adopted a report on Wednesday (16 May) which suggests that the EU should abandon the private-public scheme previously agreed for Galileo.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Brussels' three scenarios: cash from the EU's budget, national budgets or no Galileo (Photo: wikipedia)

Instead, member states should decide whether to co-finance the project individually or allo the common EU budget to be used to pay the bill, with transport commissioner Jacques Barrot favouring the latter.

"It's €400 million per year which equals about 400km of motorway," he said.

"Or could we just give up Galileo?" the French commissioner asked rhetorically as he presented the third possible scenario on what to do next. He instantly rejected going down that route, arguing that the EU should do what is needed to ensure the satellite system becomes operational in 2012, as formerly projected.

"Our industry must be at the front of this technological revolution and therefore we must ensure there are no further delays," he said, adding "We're determined to assume the full responsibility for this major project."

The commission's move comes after eight companies, in a consortium set up almost two years ago and charged with building and running Galileo, failed to meet Brussels' deadline to agree on a business plan.

Private firms to run the system

The consortium - made up of major aerospace and telecom players EADS, Thales, Inmarsat, Alcatel-Lucent, Finmeccanica, AENA, Hispasat and TeleOp - will be offered a possibility to run the system, but only after the public sector has guaranteed the building of it.

Mr Barrot said private investors are "afraid to take risk at this early stage" of the project but maintained that businesses are already "impatient" to be able to use its services once it starts running.

The Galileo system is aimed at breaking Europe's dependence on the US military-owned but free GPS system and was originally programmed to launch its 30 satellites by 2008.

The satellites will beam radio signals to receivers on the ground, helping users pinpoint their locations which could be used for various purposes, such as mobile phones or guiding applications in transport.

It is expected that the whole project could create 150,000 jobs in the EU.

The bloc's transport ministers are set to give their reply to the commission's Galileo salvage plan at their meeting in Brussels on 7 June.


Europe ready to tackle Greek debt relief

The Greek government has built and broadened alliances in EU institutions and member-states that acknowledge the need to restructure the debt and deliver another economic model for the eurozone.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity