Brussels, 20 March 2002
The UK is set to back the proposed release of 3.6 million euro of EU funding for the Galileo satellite navigation project.
The move signals a significant move from Britain, which had until recently expressed doubts about the Galileo scheme. The UK says it is now satisfied it has been given sufficient reassurances about the project. UK officials say they are confident other Member States will back the exclusion of private companies from the 'joint undertaking' which will manage the project.
The UK is, however, reported to be seeking further assurances that the project will remain a civilian rather than a military application.
Germany, which has also expressed reservations about the budgetary impact of the Galileo project, recently announced that it will support the release of 450 million euro of Community funding for the development phase. French President Jacques Chirac has also voiced his support for Galileo, saying it will give the EU independence from the USA - whose GPS system is currently used by Europeans - in space matters.
At the recent European Council summit in Barcelona, EU leaders urged transport ministers meeting on 25 and 26 March 'to take the necessary decisions' on the funding and management of Galileo.
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