Press Release

Galileo at the crossroads: implementing the European satellite radio navigation programmes

By SpaceRef Editor
May 19, 2007
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Galileo at the crossroads: implementing the European satellite radio navigation programmes

The European Commission today adopted a communication on the state of play of the Galileo programme in response to a request from the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. The Commission notes that the Galileo roadmap needs adapting to meet the deadline of 2012 by when Galileo should be fully operable. The public-private partnership set up to implement Galileo needs to be reprofiled to enable Galileo to be brought into service in 2012.

“Europe needs a satellite radio navigation system as part of its essential infrastructure for crucial applications such as border control, transport logistics, financial operations and the surveillance of critical energy and communications infrastructures. The Commission is doing everything it can to guarantee its success”, said Jacques Barrot, Commission Vice-President responsible for transport. “Galileo will make a major contribution to Community policies, and embodies Europe’s ambitions in space, technology and innovation”, he added.

Satellite radio navigation is a technology which enables users to pinpoint their location anywhere in the world at any moment in time.

The European Galileo satellite radio navigation system consists of a constellation of 30 satellites in orbit at an altitude of 24 000 km offering five different services.

Work on the European satellite radio navigation programmes, Galileo and Egnos[1], has reached a crossroads, and a political choice now has to be made on how to implement them.

The lack of progress in the negotiations on the concession contract, which provided for the deployment and management of the infrastructure by the private sector, is posing a serious threat to the completion of the project. The Council (Transport Ministers) which met on 22 March 2007 therefore asked the Commission to let it have, before its next meeting in June, a detailed report setting out the progress made in the negotiations with the consortium applying for the concession and alternative scenarios for the rapid deployment of the space infrastructure. The Commission’s conclusion is that the present roadmap, which provides for the involvement of the private sector at an early stage, will not enable the project to be completed within the desired timeframe and that this is likely to lead to considerable extra costs for the private sector.

The Commission proposes adapting the roadmap to enable the timetable and costs to be monitored more closely and to give the satellite radio navigation applications and services industries a greater sense of security as to when Galileo signals will actually become available. The Commission shows that the most beneficial, the most realistic and, in the long term, the most economic option will be for all the initial infrastructure to be put in place while being piloted and financed by the public sector. In contrast, the operation of the system will be entrusted to a private concession holder.

The Commission calls on the EU Member States to take the necessary decisions in terms of policy, finance and programme management to enable the project to be completed as soon as possible and to meet the needs of satellite navigation market users.

Satellite radio navigation applications will provide numerous applications for everyday life, from vehicle guidance to the safety of transport, including commercial applications (banking, geology, public works, energy, etc). Satellite radio navigation is penetrating all layers of society. Galileo is therefore about the ordinary citizen.

For more information about Galileo, please see:

SpaceRef staff editor.