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Sunday, January 4, 1987

Galileo is ready to go! Europe get ready!

EU to launch Galileo despite Spanish opposition

European ministers in charge of transport have agreed on the division of aerospace industrial work for Galileo. Spain, disappointed about not getting to host one of the system's ground control centres, voted against the long-awaited deal but lost out to a qualified majority.

"Galileo is about to be launched [...] The industrial plan has just been approved," said Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot after the Council meeting on 29 November 2007. The agreement on the EU's satellite navigation project was reached just before an end-of-year deadline set by the Commission.
After hours of negotiations, 26 of the 27 European ministers in charge of transport voted in favour of the Commission's industrial tendering plan, which sets out how the work for putting the European satellite navigation system in place will be divided (see EurActiv 26/11/2007) between the EU's main aerospace industries.
Spain voted against the plan as it failed to get any guarantees that it could host a Galileo ground control centre. With the support of other member states, the Portuguese Presidency had proposed that the Spanish 'safety of life centre', which includes rescue operations, could evolve into a Galileo ground control centre if the right conditions are met, but this was not enough for Spain. The country thus found itself isolated in the final vote. The two main control centres are in Italy and Germany.
"We are now going to move on with the implementation phase and put an end to this period of disturbances that has accompanied this process in recent times," said the Portuguese Minister for Transport Mário Lino.
"The industrial plan has been very difficult to implement because we had to reconcile a necessary measure of competition and a desire for fair allocation of the construction work on Galileo. So in dividing the programme up into six packages, imposing sub-contracting, we have maintained competition so that all the aerospace industries in Europe can participate," said Barrot.
Last week, the EU budget ministers agreed to cover the extra €2.4 billion needed to get Galileo off the ground through unused Community funds, mainly those earmarked for the bloc's common agricultural policy. The programme is already running four years late and doubts have been raised about its ability to ever become economically viable or compete with the American GPS.
However, as a diplomat from an EU member state put it, "everybody knows that there is no business case for Galileo. We only need a European system of our own, because at a militarily very critical moment we can't trust the GPS to be available."source:EuroAktiv

My comment: The last line is extremely important! I disagree there is no business in the Galileo, just we still fail to see it. But it's important to have an alternative to GPS in hard times (not necessairly a war, but an emergency or some failure on GPS). And anyway, competition always lead to progress. Which is good. We need to kick it in space. It's high time we do.

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