An agreement has been reached between the European Union
and China on its participation in the GALILEO program. This agreement was initialled in Beijing on September 18 by F. Lamoureux, Director-General of Energy and Transport at the European Commission
, and M Shi Dinghuan, Secretary General of China's Ministry of Science and Technology. “China will help GALILEO to become the major world infrastructure for the growing market for location services,” said Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for the GALILEO programme. Her counterpart in the negotiations, China's Science and Technology Minister Xu Guanhua highlighted that “China supports GALILEO and plans to participate actively in its construction and application for mutual benefits”.
Since the Council gave the Commission the green light for formal negotiations with China on 28 March 2003, two rounds of talks have been held, with one first encounter in Brussels on 23 April 2003. The second negotiation meeting was held in Beijing on 18 September 2003, led by Mr. Shi Dinghuan, General Secretary of China's Ministry of Science and Technology and Mr. François Lamoureux, Director General for Transport and Energy at the European Commission. Both sides finalised a draft agreement which paves the way for China's active participation in the programme. It will be submitted to the next EU Transport Council meeting on 9 October 2003 for formal approval by the EU Member States, and must also be approved by China's State Council. The text will subsequently be submitted for signature at the forthcoming EU-China Summit
on 30 October 2003.
This agreement provides for cooperative activities on satellite navigation and timing in a wide range of sectors, notably science and technology, industrial manufacturing, service and market development, as well as standardisation, frequency and certification. It also opens the way for China to take a substantial financial part in the programme through a stakeholding in the GALILEO Joint Undertaking, the body established to manage the programme, and the activities pursued by the European Space Agency.
The “China-Europe Global Navigation Satellite System Technical Training and Co-operation Centre” (CENC) will be inaugurated tomorrow in Beijing's Zhongguancun Hi-Tech Zone. The Centre will serve as a focal point for all activities on GALILEO. International experts will be invited for lectures on the technical and commercial aspects of satellite navigation, with special attention given to development of applications. The training centre is the result of a joint effort by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the Chinese Remote Sensing Centre, the European Commission and the European Space Agency.
European industry is eager to collaborate with China in this field. The Centre is a critical tool to encourage ventures and other industrial collaborative activities. With the assistance of the EU 6th Framework Programme for research, several European companies are planning to invite Chinese partners to join forces to submit proposals for developing the application market for GALILEO during the next few years.