Global Economics

EU Approves Galileo Satellite Project


Transport ministers say yes to the system of navigation satellites and ground stations designed to rival the U.S. GPS network

EU transport ministers on Monday (7 April) gave their final approval to the bloc's project for a satellite navigation system.

Galileo—a global network of 30 navigation satellites and ground stations—is designed to rival the US global positioning system (GPS), has a budget of €3.4 billion for the 2007—2013 period, and will be entirely EU owned.

"This represents a decisive step towards a further implementation of this project. Europe has to carry on by intensively developing [Galileo], which constitutes the greatest technical and technological challenge for the EU in terms of developing its proper navigational system," Slovenian transport minister Radovan Zerjav, whose country currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, said at a press conference following the transport ministers' meeting in Luxembourg.

"Today, we sent a clear message to Europe and the world that Europe remains committed to its goal of allowing all European citizens and companies a high-quality satellite-navigation service by 2013," he added.

Following Monday's deal, the European Commission will be responsible for implementing the project and its different programmes, assisted by the Galileo Supervisory Authority and the European Space Agency.

The political supervision on the other hand, will be conducted by the Council—the EU institution representing the member states, and the European Parliament.

The key political decision on Galileo was taken in November last year after long debates between member states about where to host parts of the project.

Prior to this, the project had already been postponed, following disagreements within the private consortium charged with building Galileo.

The cost of the satellite navigation programme is now to be carried by tax payers, using a mixture of leftover agriculture funds and research, transport and administration budgets.

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