Report on the proposed Council Regulation on the establishment of structures for the management of the European satellite radionavigation programme (link)

March 29, 2004

Brussels, 26 Mar 2004

REPORT on the proposal for a Council Regulation on the establishment of structures for the management of the European satellite radionavigation programme
Full text

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In principle your rapporteur welcomes the Commission proposal. It envisages the creation of two executive bodies which are in a position to guarantee that an independent, civilian European satellite navigation system can operate securely. However, your rapporteur considers that some important questions remain unanswered and certain structural aspects have not been satisfactory resolved. No arrangements have been made to enable the concession treaty to be concluded in the event of delays in setting up the Supervisory Authority; the proposed regulation does not take sufficient account of the need for transparency; and it does not take advantage of existing experiences and structures such as the ESA.

Timetable for setting up the Supervisory Authority

The Supervisory Authority is not responsible for choosing the operator. Delays in setting up the Joint Undertaking have shown that time problems are a factor to be reckoned with when a new authority is set up, even when there is agreement in principle. Therefore steps should be taken to ensure that any delays do not block the progress of the whole programme. Your rapporteur advocates that in this event the Joint Undertaking be authorised by the Commission and Council to sign the concession treaty together with the future operating consortium.

Nevertheless, the highest priority must be given to setting up the Supervisory Authority and the Security Centre in good time. As the selection procedure stands at present, the Joint Undertaking can be expected to put forward a potential concessionaire after the end of 2004. The deployment phase will begin about a year later (approximately spring 2006), i.e. the new authorities would have to be in existence by then, to make the necessary preparations together with the concessionaire.

Role of the European Parliament

It is undisputed that, because of the strategic nature of the European satellite navigation system, an effective supervisory authority is essential. This presupposes the greatest possible political independence of the authority's management bodies. Nevertheless, procedures in the Supervisory Authority must be transparent and comprehensible for the public. This also applies to a transparent appeal procedure. Article 1 of the proposed regulation gives the Supervisory Authority the task of managing public interests. As the only EU institution with direct democratic legitimacy, Parliament should not be left out of the decision-making processes. An annual activity report from the director of the Authority is, in your rapporteur's view, not a sufficient guarantee of the appropriate transparency. The regulation must also include a requirement for the Security Centre to keep Parliament informed.

Including existing structures

In order to ensure that the Supervisory Authority functions as soon and as well as possible, this institution must build on maximum know-how. The proposal therefore rightly envisages that the Authority' Administrative Board may call on the expertise of a scientific and technical committee. But this still has to be set up. The European Space Agency (ESA) already has the required scientific and technical resources. In the current phase of the programme, the ESA is closely involved in developing the European satellite navigation system and has a 50% share in the Joint Undertaking. But the Commission proposal sees no role for the European Space Agency in the future management structure. Setting up a new committee instead of consulting the ESA on scientific and technical issues would duplicate structures.

On the basis of Article 7 of the Regulation setting up the Galileo Joint Undertaking, a Security Board has been established to deal with security matters in the Joint Undertaking. It may be assumed that, by the time the Security Centre proposed in the draft regulation is set up, the Security Board will already have an extensive track record from the development phase. This know-how must be put to use for the deployment phase. The way in which it will be incorporated must, however, depend on the structures of the Security Centre, which are still to be defined.

Conclusion

Your rapporteur welcomes the Commission proposal for a Regulation on structures for the management of the European satellite radio navigation programme and supports it in its concern to establish the legal basis as quickly as possible and then to proceed with implementation. The Commission proposal, however, needs some amendment, to ensure that the authorities to be set up are transparent and as efficient as possible, and that the deployment phase is completed according to plan. The taxpayer, who has already had to bear the costs of the Galileo programme to date, can justifiably demand that these expectations will be fulfilled.

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Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy - Rapporteur: Alexander Radwan

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