Brussels, 16 Jan 2003
The European Commission has announced its intention to proceed with the Galileo project despite disagreements within the European Space Agency (ESA) over the distribution of financial contributions.
The unresolved difference of opinion between ESA council members, concerning the industrial return to be derived from the programme, arose during a meeting in December 2002: While one country sought to link the distribution scale to the country's gross domestic product, another pressed for contributions to be linked to industrial return capacity.
Despite these developments within ESA, the European Commission is confident that the schedule to provide Galileo positioning services by 2008 can be maintained.
'Fortunately, since the decision taken in March by the EU Council, the Commission has endeavoured to do its utmost to ensure the rapid start-up of activities, which will enable us to meet the deadlines, in particular concerning the commercial launching of Galileo services in 2008,' stressed Loyola de Palacio, Commission Vice-President responsible for energy and transport.
The decision referred to by Loyola de Palacio is the release of 450 million euro of EU funding for the development of Galileo, which was unanimously approved at a meeting of the EU Transport Council on 26 March 2002.
While the European Commission has expressed disappointment in the delays within ESA, it hopes that the agency will be able to release their financial contribution of 550 million euro in the coming months.
In the meantime the European Commission continues to make its own preparations:
- Preparatory measures have been taken to set up the joint undertaking, which will act as the management structure for the Galileo programme during the development phase.
- In order to carry out the programme during the system deployment and commercial operation phases, concession arrangements have been made which are to lead to the launch in 2003, of a call for a concession-holder, which will be selected in 2004.
- A recently created security board has prepared a proposal, aimed at setting up a future security authority, which is intended to manage the satellite system and act as an interlocutor with third countries, and in particular the USA.
- The Transport Council has endorsed the five services provided by the Galileo system: open service, commercial service, safety-of-life service, public regulatory service and search-and-rescue service. These services are to be included in the calls for tenders, which will be launched by the joint undertaking and ESA.
Finally, the European Commission has concluded international agreements aimed at ensuring the interoperability of Galileo with the American GPS and Russian GLONAS systems, and scientific, technological and industrial cooperation with many third countries, including China, Canada and Australia.
For further information about the Galileo project, please consult the following web address: