Green light for Galileo draws cautious American reaction

April 2, 2002

Brussels, 29 March 2002

The long-awaited decision by European transport ministers to release funding for the development of Europe's own civil satellite navigation system, Galileo, has drawn a cautious reaction from the USA.

America had applied pressure for Europe to abandon the project, arguing that the system is both expensive and unnecessary. At present, the USA's GPS system, developed for military purposes, dominates the satellite navigation market.

The USA seems to have softened its attitude, however, following the decision of the EU Transport Council on 26 March - warmly welcomed by the European space agency and the EU space industry - to give Galileo the green light.

The United States' mission to the EU has stated that it has always maintained that the decision to develop Galileo rests with the EU, and that the USA wants to cooperate with Europe to ensure the interoperability of the Galileo and GPS systems. The Americans believe these negotiations will allow them to raise related technical, commercial and safety concerns over the EU project.

The Americans have expressed concern about the interoperability of the Galileo and GPS systems, and are anxious to avoid interference between the frequency bands used by each system. According to the Commission, the EU has calculated that there will be less than 0.2 decibels of interference between the Galileo frequency band and the GPS military band, and the US is currently checking this result.

A document issued by the European Commission on 12 March this year, which called for an urgent decision on the Galileo project, states that 'Europeans are aware of the need to avoid any risk of disturbing [the GPS] system, and have come up with solution which give every possible guarantee in this connection.' It adds that Europeans 'are willing to cooperate actively in all areas with the United States, as well as with Russia or China.'

The USA has also expressed concern that the Galileo system may be hijacked for hostile purposes, and has claimed the right to jam Galileo's PRS (public regulated service) signal should such a situation arise. The EU is currently examining ways to jam the system's open signal in times of crisis but allow the public signal to continue.

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CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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