The European Commission adopted a communication on progress on the GALILEO program. Less than two years after the launch of the project in March 2002 and less than six months after the actual setting up of the GALILEO joint undertaking, the Commission was keen to inform Parliament and the Council of progress achieved in the development phase of the project. Among other things, the communication covers the ordering of the first two experimental satellites, the cooperation agreement with China and the procedure for designating the future concession holder for the system. «Everything is now in place to be able to move on to the deployment and operation phases in accordance with the planned deadlines, i.e. before the end of the decade », declared Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President of the Commission.
The year 2003 was crucial for the program. The adopted communication states first of all that the development phase, which extends from 2002 to 2005, is progressing as planned. The first two experimental satellites were ordered in July 2003. They will be emitting signals from space by the summer of 2006 and will thus guarantee the use of frequencies that the World Radiocommunications Conference held in 2003 allocated, moreover, to the GALILEO system.
The rapid development of international cooperation is also examined in detail in the communication. The agreement concluded with China in October 2003 (see IP/03/1461) is important and exemplary. Similar measures are underway with regard to other third countries. As regards relations with the United States, the negotiations to be held in Brussels on 24 and 25 February next should conclude with an agreement that will guarantee interoperability of the American and European systems.
Finally, the communication devotes a great deal of attention to the preparation of the future phases of deployment, from 2006 to 2008, and operation, from 2008. The procedure for designating the future concession holder for this system is making very satisfactory progress, since three consortia have been admitted to the second phase, the competitive negotiation (see IP/04/172). Moreover, discussions on the future management structures for the system, particularly for the Supervisory Authority, are making good progress within the Council.
The communication concludes that it is essential firstly that the legislative procedure concerning the rules on the future management structures for the program be completed without delay and secondly that the European Parliament and the Council confirm the guidelines which they have previously issued. In particular, it is vital that the European Space Agency should be able to finally adopt the technical options considered so far, that the joint undertaking should complete the negotiations relating to the choice of system operator and that the Supervisory Authority should conclude the concession contract.