Brussels, 21 May 2003
Members of the European Parliament's intergroup on sky and space have approved a resolution that calls on Member State governments to put national pride to one side and reach an agreement on financing for Galileo, Europe's satellite navigation system.
The appeal precedes a European Space Agency (ESA) ministerial meeting on May, where Europe's space ministers will seek to break the deadlock over financial contributions to the programme. Spain has previously expressed a wish to contribute more than the nine per cent of the total cost of Galileo that it has currently been allocated.
If ministers fail to reach agreement, the resolution calls on the Commission to set up a joint enterprise to launch the programme, if need be without the support of Member States.
The resolution also highlights the crisis currently facing the European space industry as a whole, and calls on Member States and ESA members to take urgent steps to find solutions for the good of the sector. A priority, it says, is to overcome the technical problems that have kept the enhanced Ariane 5 launcher grounded since its failed maiden flight in December 2002.
'This resolution, passed with near unanimous support by Parliament, sends a strong political signal. It is a message of support for the space industry at a particularly difficult time. It also invites the Commission and ESA to force national governments to face up to their responsibilities in the short and medium term,' said MEP Gilles Savary, president of the sky and space intergroup.
The intergroup also welcomed the inclusion of the EU's ambitions in space in article 3 of the Convention on the Future of Europe, and said that it hoped that European space policy would appear on the list of 'shared competences' of the Union and Member States.