Select Committee on European Scrutiny Seventh Report



Draft Council Resolution: GALILEO — involving Europe in a new generation of satellite navigation services.

Legal base:
Department: Environment, Transport and the Regions
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 31 January 2001
Previous Committee Report: HC 28-i (2000-01), paragraph 17 (13 December 2000); see also (19950) 6528/99: HC 34-xvii (1998-99), paragraph 1 (28 April 1999)
To be discussed in Council: 4 April 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Not cleared; further information requested


  8.1  GALILEO is a joint initiative between the EU and the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a European civilian satellite navigation system. If developed, this European system would remove the reliance on the two existing systems, GPS and GLONASS, that are operated by the US and Russia respectively.

  8.2  In July 1999, the Transport Council asked the Commission to begin the GALILEO definition phase and report the results by the end of 2000. The intention was that the Council would then decide whether the project should proceed to the next phase — development and validation — which the Commission plans should take from 2001 to 2005. That would be followed by a deployment phase (2006-2007) and an operational phase from 2008 onwards. On 22 November 2000, the Commission adopted a Communication on the results of the GALILEO definition phase, which had been carried out jointly by the Commission and European Space Agency (ESA) over the previous year. On 21 December, the French Presidency and the Commission sought conditional agreement at the Transport Council to launch the development and validation phase, at an estimated cost of 1.1 billion euros, to be shared equally between the Community and the ESA.

  8.3  We reported on and cleared the Communication in our Report of 13 December. However, we expressed dissatisfaction at the apparent haste with which agreement was being sought at the December Council.

  8.4  In the event, the Transport Council failed to reach agreement on how to proceed with the development and validation phase of the initiative. The matter was deferred to the first Transport Council under the Swedish Presidency on 4 April.

The document

  8.5  The draft Resolution considered at the December Transport Council sets out how the project can move forward, subject to a number of conditions, such as:

    —  providing a homogenous signal over the entire territory of the EU by means of satellites in medium earth orbit;

    —  planning to allow integration of EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System) into the GALILEO programme;

    —  ensuring compatibility and interoperability of GALILEO and other satellite systems (GPS and GLONASS);

    —  guaranteeing a secure and continuous service;

    —  defining arrangements against misuse and the protection of civil liberties;

    —  using cost-benefit analysis to devise an appropriate financing arrangement for general, commercial and public interests;

    —  guaranteeing effective political and administrative control of GALILEO and EGNOS with the appropriate legal bases;

    —  providing for a solid, forward-looking private public partnership; and

    —  producing annual reports on the progress of the programme.

  8.6  The Trans-European Networks Financial Assistance Committee, which had met on 18 December to allocate funding to transport projects, including GALILEO, for the period 2001-2006 had made the 1.1 billion euros funding of GALILEO conditional on a positive decision by the Council. As noted above, the matter was deferred to the Transport Council on 4 April.

The Government's view

  8.7  The Minister had previously told the Committee that the Government had concerns about the project, relating to its costs, funding and lack of progress on a public-private partnership and on a co-operation framework with the US. According to the Minister, Commissioner Loyola de Palacio was critical of the draft Resolution's length, complexity and alleged ambiguity and was unwilling to accept the draft Resolution. The Minister points out that this was despite the fact that Commission officials had participated in drawing up the Resolution.

  8.8  The Minister also informs us that the UK Government intends to work with the Swedish Presidency and other Member States and the Commission to determine a way forward on the project that could be acceptable to the Transport Council in April.


  8.9  In our Report of 13 December we indicated that it was unsatisfactory that a Commission Communication on such an important and long-term proposal should be rushed through from publication on 22 November in less than a month to a Council meeting at which Ministers were invited to agree to take the project forward. This observation was without prejudice to any view on the merits of the project.

  8.10  Failure to reach agreement at the Transport Council in December was perhaps not surprising given the complexity of the issues and the haste with which the matter was prepared. However, it is still not clear precisely what issues stand in the way of an agreement. It is also unclear why Commissioner Loyola de Palacio felt unable to accept a resolution that Commission officials had themselves helped to draw up. Clearly the project can be developed successfully only if there is a clear understanding of the issues involved, including how the high initial costs and running costs are to be financed. We ask the Minister to set out precisely those substantive areas that divide the parties and prevented agreement at the Transport Council in December. In the meantime we do not clear the document.

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