Approval for launch of Galileo satellite navigation project

March 27, 2002

Brussels, 26 March 2002

EU Transport Ministers have overcome the final obstacles, with agreement on financing the development phase of the Galileo project and on creating an undertaking to administer the project until the beginning of its commercial phase, planned for 2008.

Spanish Minister and President of the Transport Council Francisco Alvarez-Cascos stressed "the benefits this will bring for a generation of Europeans, who are going to need these services and who will be paying for them," pointing out that, without Galileo, "technology, R&D and jobs" run the risk of "happening on another continent." Mr Alvarez-Cascos said the agreement could be considered "one of the great decisions" in the social chapter of EU history.

Regarding Galileo’s potential for military use, the Minister noted that "the question of whether users are civilian or military is a secondary issue. Some of us have defended the civil project irrespective of who will be using the services, but it is not possible to argue that its use for military purposes should be prevented and at the same time permit the hegemony of the GPS system, which was created and is administered by the United States army."

The European Commissioner for Transport and Energy, Loyola de Palacio, also expressed her satisfaction at the fact that "agreement has been reached in time," adding that "the Galileo satellite system will enable us to create over 150,000 highly qualified jobs and will generate wealth and development which will translate, for instance, into revenue of some 10,000 million euros a year once it starts providing its services, in something less than six years from now." In another move, the Transport Ministers of the Fifteen also approved a new Community law laying down stricter rules on the noise levels permitted in European airports.

Spanish Presidency Website http://www.eu2002.es

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