Galileo Gets 450M Euros to Proceed

Wednesday, April 10, 2002
The European Transport Council (i.e. the Transport Ministers of the European Member States), which met in Brussels on March 25-26, has released from the European Community budget the 450 million Euro necessary to launch the Galileo satellite navigation project. The Commission was asked to set up the "Joint Undertaking" (the authority overseeing the management of Galileo's development phase) without delay. Galileo has been stalled for 15 months. At the Barcelona summit, European Leaders had approved its launch and thus increased the pressure on the Transport Council. We understand that the agreement was made possible by a compromise regarding the composition of the Joint Authority. In order to avoid a conflict of interests, public companies (who will contribute significantly to the financing of Galileo) will be excluded from the Joint undertaking until after completion of the tendering process at the end of 2003. Importantly for the shipping industry, Ministers stated in the Council Conclusions that Galileo "should be interoperable with GPS and its successor systems through an EU-US agreement that should be negotiated as soon as possible." Therefore, it would seem that those enterprises which wish to continue using the free GPS system will be able to do so as the signal will not be blocked. In any case, Galileo will have several levels of service, some of which will also be free. The European Transport and Energy Commissioner, Mrs. Loyola de Palacio, has stated that there will only be a charge for those services which are of a higher quality than GPS currently provides. It seems, therefore, that the Galileo project will not necessarily entail extra expense for the shipping industry unless it wishes to avail itself of the reportedly 'superior' capabilities of Galileo.

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