European Commission vice president and Commissioner for transport Jacques Barrot is announcing today that the EC's preferred option for the future of the Galileo satellite navigation programme is that the initial infrastructure should be put in place and financed by the public sector and that only then the operation of the system would be entrusted to a private concession holder.
In its press statement the Commission states that for Galileo to meet the deadline of 2012 to be fully operable the public-private partnership set up to implement Galileo "needs to be re-profiled" to enable Galileo to be brought into service in time. The Commission proposes adapting the Galileo 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.
Barrot says, "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. Galileo will make a major contribution to Community policies, and embodies Europe's ambitions in space, technology and innovation."
A lack of progress in the negotiations on the concession contract, with the Galileo Operating Company and its Merged Consortium predecessor, which provided for the deployment and management of the infrastructure by the private sector, was posing a threat for the timetable for Galileo.
The EU's council of transport ministers met on 22 March 2007 and asked the Commission to let it have 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 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. In its statement the EC has called 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.