Brussels, 07 Jan 2003
On 23 December 2002 the European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed that unanimous agreement on its participation in the Galileo project had not been reached due to objections from some Member States.
The disagreement threatens to delay the planned 2008 completion date for the Galileo project, Europe's first satellite navigation system, which aims to complement the US-built GPS network.
The agency stated that while 13 of its Member States were ready to accept a compromise solution concerning the financing and leadership of the project, two members, Germany and Spain, felt unable to do so.
Antonio Rodotà, ESA General Director said: 'This is a hard blow for Europe. The entire space industry in Europe will badly suffer from this break in the negotiations. [...] Our Member States failed to reach an agreement, thereby delaying the start of the project's development and validation phase.'
Germany's objection to the compromise is thought to centre on the issue of project leadership. Under current plans, Germany would fund around 25 per cent of the cost of the system, and representatives feel that this should ensure the country's leadership of the programme. Italy also feels it has made a strong case for running the project, however, and the difference of opinion appears to have led to Germany's rejection of the agreement. Spain is also reluctant to drop below a certain level of investment.
Franco Bonacina, a spokesperson for ESA, told CORDIS News that further meetings would be necessary and that solutions need to be found quickly. 'This is an unfortunate situation, but no-one has given up hope,' he said, 'The Galileo project is a very important one for Europe, and we must hope that this is understood at the highest political level.'
The issue is now in the hands of the ESA council, and the announcement of a council meeting, where the search for a new compromise will begin, is expected in the next few days.
For further information on the Galileo project, please consult the following web address: