15th Nov 2018

EU rescue bid for Galileo faces difficulties

  • Brussels needs to find €2.4 billion to get Galileo up and running (Photo: European Space Agency)

The 27-nation EU is entering the final phase of talks on how to finance the bloc's troubled satellite navigation system, Galileo, but member states remain split, while the European Parliament has flexed its muscles on the issue.

On Tuesday (13 November), EU finance ministers are expected to discuss a European Commission proposal to use the 2007 and 2008 budgetary margins for agriculture and administration - running to around €2.5 billion - to get the project on its feet.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But a deal remains difficult due to strong opposition in a number of EU capitals, mainly in Berlin and London.

Germany, the largest net contributor to EU coffers, has resisted the idea of funding Galileo exclusively from the bloc's common budget.

This is thought to be because Berlin is concerned that it will then miss out getting unspent farm money returned to it.

National capitals are entitled to get money that is not spent returned to them at the end of the budgetary period, a sum running to around €500 million for Germany.

Instead, the country has suggested plugging the hole with two different sources - EU public finances as well as the European Space Agency's budget.

Meanwhile, UK parliamentarians in the transport committee have suggested that the entire project should be put on ice until a "new cost-benefit analysis" is carried out.

"It would be entirely unacceptable to proceed with the Galileo project at this stage without fresh and rigorous evaluations of the balance between costs and benefits", the committee said in a report released on Monday (12 November), Bloomberg reported.

"The new cost-benefit analysis should include a comparative evaluation of the zero-option of scrapping the project altogether", the report has also suggested.

According to one UK diplomat speaking to EUobserver, the lawmakers' report will be "taken seriously" by Downing Street.

London has also voiced opposition against the commission proposal and suggested that the extra expenses linked to Galileo are covered by the competitiveness budgetary chapter.

This would mean that the EU should set new priorities within the chapter.

What comes next?

So far, neither of the two proposals has won majority support among member states.

According to one EU diplomat, if Galileo was to be co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA), the bloc could run into difficulties over the ownership of the 30-satellite system. Not all EU member countries are members of ESA and not all ESA members are part of the EU club.

On the other hand, the competitiveness chapter offers a much smaller - only about €750 million - reserve compared to the margins for agriculture and administration.

Despite the ongoing wrangling over the Galileo's funding, EU capitals seem to be firmly behind the idea of the project.

"We don't want to put it off. We are deeply convinced that Europe needs this system", German Chancellor Angela Merkel was cited as saying by Bloomberg earlier on Monday (12 November), after holding talks with her French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy.

"We want it to happen. It's a major strategic target", Mr Sarkozy said.

Ms Merkel added that transport ministers from the two countries, Germany and France, would be asked to table a proposal on how the Galileo project could be funded later this month.

The European Parliament

According to one diplomat, the deal on Galileo funding should be reached not later than 23 November, as the European Parliament - leaning to the commission proposal - has threatened not to approve 2008 budget if there is no agreement.

Originally, Galileo, the bloc's biggest ever joint technological project, was supposed to be a public-private project, but the private consortium - consisting of eight European firms - could not agree a common commercial position.

In addition, there also were complaints of political meddling, with EU member states still pushing for their interests to be taken into account.

The setting-up of a global network of 30 navigation satellites and ground stations, meant to end the EU's reliance on the US Global Positioning System (GPS), has already been postponed from 2008 to 2012.

EU to investigate Galileo launch failure

The European Commission has set up an inquiry into the failure to correctly launch the latest two satellites of its ill-fated Galileo programme.

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

Greek austerity violated right to health, says watchdog

Cuts in the Greek health care system, following the austerity cuts demanded in return for international bailouts, have violated the European Social Charter on the right to health, says Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Dunja Mijatovic.


Salvini is gambling with core voters' future in budget battle

Businesses in northern Italy are anxiously watching the standoff between the European Commission and the Italian government. They used to be the 'Northern League's' most important electorate - but the party's profile and priorities have changed.

EU commission eyes majority tax rules

The commission plans to address tax avoidance schemes in some EU states by shifting tax decisions away from unanimity to a majority system in what amounts to a long shot.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published


An open China brings opportunities to Europe

Some 60 years ago, the first major World Fair after World War II was held in Brussels. Sixty years on, China International Import Expo (CIIE), the first world expo dedicated to expanding imports, will open in Shanghai, China.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us