Brussels, 01 Apr 2003
An agreement has been reached between Italy and Germany on contributions to the Galileo programme, which, if acceptable to the other countries involved, will pave the way for the official launch of the Galileo joint undertaking's activities.
The agreement was reached at governmental level, and foresees Italy assuming responsibility for the engineering part of the programme, while Germany will manage the space facet. Germany will also host the joint undertaking's site, where 30 satellites will be constructed.
Discussions over contributions to the Galileo programme have, for the first time, seen European countries in disagreement because they want to contribute more. This is because national contributions will be met with contracts for companies in that country.
'Now we have to check that the agreement [between Italy and Germany] fits in with the overall ESA [European Space Agency] framework and that it doesn't have any implications for the other countries. You have to remember that ESA is a 15 Member State organisation,' an ESA spokesperson told CORDIS News.
The European Commission has welcomed the agreement, calling it 'encouraging', although a spokesperson emphasised to CORDIS News that they are still waiting to see the details of the agreement, and that the matter should not be considered closed until a formal agreement has been reached. The Commission is now awaiting the outcome of an ESA meeting due to take place in April.
While Ottobrunn was initially announced as the new home for the joint undertaking, a final decision has not yet been made, according to reports in the German press.
In a separate development, China has expressed an interest in becoming involved in the programme. A final decision on this matter lies with the European Commission, although as the ESA spokesperson highlighted, 'Galileo is supposed to be global. It will work on the other side of the world when it is operational.' Additional third countries are also believed to have expressed an interest in participation.
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