Europe News: Parliament backs EU funding to put Galileo into orbit

Europe News:  Parliament backs EU funding to put Galileo into orbit

In a vote last week, Parliament backed the proposal that the Galileo program should be financed in full from the EU budget.

According to the Commission, the budget foreseen for the operational expenditure of Galileo for the period 2007-2013 is €1 billion. However, it is estimated that it will cost a total of €3.4 billion to get Galileo off the starting block by 2011. To date, €1.2 billion has been spent.

The funding gap could be bridged by Member State contributions, the EU budget, or a combination of the two.

Galileo has been hit by delays with its testing timetable and over negotiations with the private sector, and the project is now five years behind schedule.

Only one of the three satellites has been launched. Giove A1 was launched in December 2005 and began transmitting Galileo navigation signals in January 2006. The Giove B satellite, scheduled for launch in 2006, has been postponed until end-2007.

Negotiations with Euro-GNSS, the private consortium of eight European companies, failed at the beginning of the year due to the companies' fears of additional costs. Transport ministers agreed in June that the EU's collaboration with the consortium should end and that the next stage should be managed by the public sector.

A meeting is scheduled for July 10th, when EU finance ministers are expected to give their views on Galileo’s funding.

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