Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Galileo contracts give boost to delayed project

  • An artists impression of a Galileo satellite in space (Photo: European Space Agency)

The European Union's much-delayed satellite navigation system, Galileo, received an important boost on Thursday (7 January) with the awarding of several key contracts to European companies.

With a combined value of over €1 billion, the contracts to build and launch the first wave of satellites will enable the roll-out of Galileo's services from 2014, said EU transport commissioner Antonio Tajani in Brussels.

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

"With this and the upcoming awards for the remaining procurement packages, we are concluding a critical phase of the Galileo programme," he explained.

"We can now focus on the actual roll-out and demonstrate to European citizens that Europe's own satellite navigation system is firmly underway."

Galileo is the EU's answer to the US Global Positioning System (GPS), widely deployed in a broad range of navigational devices such as those used by drivers to find street directions.

Under Thursday's announcement, German space technology company OHB-System AG edged out larger rival EADS Astrium to secure the €566 million contract to build the first 14 of a maximum of 32 satellites needed for the system.

With the first satellites set to roll off the production line in the second half of 2010, the commission said the two companies would continue to compete for the remaining production tenders.

French company Arianespace was awarded a €397 million contract to launch the satellites, to be carried out using Russian-built Soyuz rockets.

System support to pull the whole project together will be provided by Italy's Thales Alenia Space, under a contract valued at €85 million.

History of setbacks

The important deals, to be signed by the companies and the European Space Agency on behalf of the commission in the coming weeks, will be welcomed by EU and member state officials working on the Galileo project, whose history has been dogged by both financial and political hiccups.

Having overcome initial US concerns that the rival project could be used to attack its armed forces, the project suffered a major setback in 2007 when the public-private partnership designed to develop and run the European initiative collapsed.

A subsequent decision by member states to finance Galileo solely from the public purse helped save the project, but also substantially increased the cost to the taxpayer, initially pencilled in at €1.8 billion but now likely to run closer to €5 billion.

Despite the greater than anticipated strain placed on public coffers, EU governments expect the project to reap considerable gains for the European economy.

Insisting that the project was currently in line with spending forecasts, Mr Tajani refused to rule out the possibility of an eventual overrun.

"I cannot tell you that we will not run over cost because of the increase in the price of the rocket launchers," he told journalists.

The EU has been keen to stress Galileo's role in complementing rather than competing with existing satellite navigation systems.

"We want Galileo to be an international system," said Mr Tajani, stressing its compatibility with the US's GPS and the ongoing discussions with other countries including Russia and China.

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.

EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg argued that disclosure of how MEPs use their monthly €4,400 expenses allowance risks violating an MEP's data protection rights. Journalists behind the case will appeal.

Investigation

Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?

Five years and €10bn after its EU bailout, Cyprus is a weak link in Europe's banking system - amid renewed fears on Russia money-laundering.

Feature

Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline

A joint declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor project, which should deliver Azerbaijani gas to Europe by 2020, will remain secret - because the Turkish energy minister left before signing.

News in Brief

  1. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  2. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  3. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  4. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit
  5. UK to allow EU flights in no-deal Brexit
  6. Greek reporters arrested after story on 'mishandled' EU funds
  7. Austrian minister urges police to out foreign sex offenders
  8. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group

EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg argued that disclosure of how MEPs use their monthly €4,400 expenses allowance risks violating an MEP's data protection rights. Journalists behind the case will appeal.

Agenda

Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

The EU will be watching closely how the political dynamics of Theresa May's Conservative party conference starting next week will influence Brexit negotiations. MEPs might also be forced to release their office expenses.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  2. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  3. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  4. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  5. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  6. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  7. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  8. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us