Documents considered by the Committee on 15 September 2010 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

19   Global navigation satellite system



+ADDs 1-2

COM(10) 308

Commission Communication: Action plan on global navigation satellite system (GNSS) applications

Legal base
Document originated14 June 2010
Deposited in Parliament21 June 2010
Basis of considerationEM of 19 August 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in CouncilNot known
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


19.1  The Community has a two-phase policy for developing a global navigation satellite system (GNSS). The first phase, GNSS 1, is the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System (EGNOS) programme. The second phase, GNSS 2, is the programme, named Galileo, to establish a new satellite navigation constellation with appropriate ground infrastructure. Galileo is based on the presumption that Europe ought not to rely indefinitely on the GPS (the US Global Positioning System) and GLONASS (the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System) systems, augmented by EGNOS. Galileo is being carried out in conjunction with the European Space Agency[83] and there are a number of agreements in place or being negotiated with third countries about cooperation in the project.

19.2  It is intended that Galileo will allow provision of five services. These are known as the:

  • Open Service (OS), free of charge at the point of use;
  • Commercial Service (CS), offering added value for more demanding uses;
  • Safety of Life Service (SoL), for safety-critical applications that require high integrity;
  • Search and Rescue Service (SAR), to complement the current COSPAS-SARSAT system (International Satellite Search and Rescue System founded by Canada, France, the former USSR and the USA in 1988 and with 33 countries now participating); and
  • Public Regulated Service (PRS), a high-performance, encrypted service for authorised civil government applications.

19.3  From early in 1999 previous Committees have reported to the House on many aspects of the Galileo project, most recently in October 2009.[84] The matter has been debated four times in European Standing Committee, most recently on 26 November 2007,[85] and once on the Floor of the House.[86]

19.4  Amongst the many relevant documents considered by previous Committees was a 2006 Green Paper on satellite navigation applications. It sought comment on possible applications of four of the proposed Galileo services (that is excluding the Public Regulated Service). The aim of the Green Paper was to "launch a discussion on what the public sector can do to create an appropriate policy and legal framework for supporting the development of satellite navigation applications, beyond the financial support for research and the creation of infrastructure". The Commission suggested applications might fall into 12 different areas and asked respondents to address a series of questions on various issues including GNSS itself, market use, benefits, ethical and privacy issues, research, small and medium enterprises, international cooperation, standardisation of devices and services, certification, frequency coordination, intellectual and property rights and potential legal and regulatory barriers.[87]

The document

19.5  In this Communication the Commission sets out an Action Plan, based on responses to the 2006 Green Paper, of 24 wide-ranging activities intended to increase the EU's share of the global market in satellite navigation equipment and uses (that is, in the language of the plan, 'applications'). The Commission notes that the EU has a lower share of the global market in satellite navigation applications than for other high-technology sectors, despite its direct investment in navigation systems through the EGNOS and Galileo programmes. It says that a failure to use these EU systems sufficiently gives rise to over-dependence on other satellite systems operated by third countries.

19.6  The actions proposed range from creation of standards to permit widespread use of the navigation technology in sectors such as aviation and shipping, information dissemination and exchange, awareness campaigns, consideration of future legislative proposals to make use of the new technologies, and activities such as research and prize competitions to promote the development of additional satellite navigation applications. They are directed to a wide range of actors from the Commission itself to industry. The actions proposed cover three of the Galileo services — the use of the Commercial Service and the Public Regulated Service are not covered by this Action Plan since the Commission will publish specific proposals for both of these services, which are, however, unlikely to be published until autumn 2010 at the earliest. The 24 actions or activities are:

  • seeking certification of EGNOS for civil aviation (through the European Aviation Safety Agency and according to International Civil Aviation Organization standards), which involves certifying the system and its operator;
  • the Commission pursuing preparatory work on providing the Middle East and Eastern and Northern Europe with Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems coverage on a par with the level of performance offered by EGNOS in the EU — it will propose scenarios to the forthcoming EU-Africa Summit for establishing this in Africa;
  • the Commission promoting GALILEO and EGNOS enabled chips and handsets through industrial cooperation with GNSS-owner countries and with receiver manufacturers;
  • investigating certification of GALILEO for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems;
  • seeking adoption of EGNOS, then GALILEO, for maritime transport in cooperation with the International Maritime Organization, taking into account international conventions such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea;
  • acceptance of GALILEO search and rescue capabilities by the COSPAS-SARSAT organisation;
  • the Commission undertaking an awareness campaign, including a series of tests to demonstrate the benefits of EGNOS, and a marketing campaign targeting the road transport community;
  • the Commission engaging, in conjunction with EUROCONTROL,[88] in an awareness and market development campaign focusing on aircraft manufacturers, general aviation and small airports;
  • the Commission engaging in an awareness campaign targeting equipment manufacturers and shipbuilders, port authorities and shipowners;
  • the Commission undertaking an awareness campaign targeting agriculture and other natural resource management activities;
  • the Commission seeking to raise awareness and coordinate Member States' activities related to civil protection;
  • the Commission investigating the expediency of some Directives — one on GNSS-based monitoring of long-range coaches and one on GNSS-based multimodal logistics and examining, as regards GNSS-based monitoring of transport of dangerous goods, various options concerning the use of telematics jointly developed at the international level (for example the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail);
  • the Commission investigating the expediency of amending the Regulation on digital tachographs, notably to take advantage of the availability of authenticated GNSS-based positioning, timing and speed information;
  • the Commission investigating the expediency of a Directive on equipping vehicles with a GNSS and Radio Frequency Identification enabled on-board functional unit to provide both the exact authenticated position and the electronic identification of the vehicle, taking due account of privacy and data protection rules;
  • the Commission seeking to introduce the use of EGNOS and GALILEO in the management and control systems of EU programmes (for example the Common Agriculture Policy);
  • the Commission funding research and development activities aimed at reducing the cost of receivers, underpinning the action to promote GALILEO and EGNOS enabled chips and handsets;
  • the Commission promoting the use of EGNOS and GALILEO in surveying in Member States and third countries — the capabilities of EGNOS and GALILEO for improving updates of geographical databases will be explored by such means as exchanges of best practice and coordination among Member States;
  • the Commission working towards boosting the synergy between GALILEO, GMES,[89] GEOSS[90] and telecommunication programmes it manages, with a view to enhancing combined services;
  • the Commission establishing an international EGNOS and GALILEO application forum where users, developers, infrastructure managers and systems providers can exchange views to feed into the EU GNSS evolution project;
  • the Commission establishing and maintaining a virtual information centre and a general awareness and communication campaign, to serve also to gather feedback to feed into the specifications for evolutions of EGNOS and GALILEO;
  • the Commission increasing awareness among small and medium enterprises through two instruments of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme[91] —dedicated action by the 'Enterprise Europe Network'[92] and the GNSS-innovation voucher scheme under 'Innovation Partnership for Satellite-enabled Services';
  • the Commission seeking synergies between investment programmes run by the European Investment Bank on behalf of the EU (for example, under the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme)[93] and other programmes (for example the technology transfer programme run by the European Space Agency;
  • the Commission supporting, together with the European GNSS Supervisory Authority, establishment of an international prize mechanism involving, for instance, regional organizations that promote applications based on EGNOS and GALILEO in a broad range of areas, including social services to ageing or disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility; and
  • the Commission allocating €38 million (£31.34 million) from the Seventh Research and Development Financial Programme to a broad spectrum of research proposals on GNSS applications in 2011 and seeking additional funding through the mid-term review of the Seventh Programme to enable calls to be launched on an annual basis.

19.7  The Communication is accompanied by a detailed impact assessment, which draws on the results of the 2006 Green paper consultation, further consultations of interested parties and various market studies.

The Government's view

19.8  The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mrs Theresa Villiers) says that the Government welcomes the Commission's Action Plan and will be recommending in any Council debate that the Commission needs to act decisively in order to maximise the benefit to the EU. In further comments the Minister:

  • draws our attention to the accompanying impact assessment noting that the Commission explored five broad options for ensuring that EGNOS and Galileo technologies are applied early in the EU transport sector and that EU industry secures a third of the global downstream applications market;
  • says that one option, the third, was to regulate for the use of EGNOS and Galileo with the aim of forcing the adoption of the technologies in the EU and that the Commission rejected this option on the basis that World Trade Organisation rules on the provision of services made the mandatory use of EGNOS and Galileo technologies extremely difficult if not impossible; and
  • tells us that the Government welcomes this, as it is strongly opposed to the public sector mandating use of a specific technology, since this stifles innovation and may result in a sub-optimal choice of technology which may become redundant before the legal provisions could be revised.

19.9  In relation to the Commission proposed action of investigating the expediency of Directives requiring the use of satellite navigation technology for the monitoring of long-range coaches and multi-modal logistics, the Minister says that, although the mandatory use of Galileo or EGNOS does not appear to be envisaged, mandating the use of generic satellite navigation technology might lead to the use of navigation systems such as the Russian GLONASS or American GPS rather than other European based alternatives to satellite navigation systems that could deliver the same result. She comments that the Government will want to understand the Commission's justification for requiring the use of satellite navigation technology.

19.10  The Minister also tells us that:

  • the Department for Transport published a study in 2009 on the potential applications for Galileo and the actions that would be needed by the Government and other actors such as the Commission to maximise benefits from the system;
  • several of these actions have been included within the Commission's Action Plan (for example certification of EGNOS and then Galileo by the International Maritime Organisation for use in the maritime sector and acceptance of Galileo search and rescue service by the COSPAS-SARSAT organisation); and
  • the Government considers, however, that the Commission could have included more of the actions recommended in the study which would have improved the benefits to UK and EU industry from Galileo and EGNOS (for example, supporting the development of standards and technology for the future proofing of equipment, working with chip manufacturers and developing specific technologies to open up sectors to satellite navigation technology).

19.11  On the financial implications of the Action Plan the Minister says that:

  • it will be funded by the Commission from the EU's finances allocated to the Galileo Programme;
  • no additional contributions are being sought to deliver this Action Plan; the Government will question the basis on which the Action Plan is expected to demand 20 full time staff and cost €50million (£41.24 million) annually until 2013, as this figure seems high; and
  • the impact assessment says that the Action Plan will help stimulate "tens of billions" of euro of benefit for the EU but does not give any more detailed figures on the likely impact of the action plan.


19.12  We welcome the Government's intention to encourage the Commission to act decisively in order to maximise the benefit of global navigation satellite systems to the EU, to examine critically any proposed legislation of the nature mentioned by the Minister and to monitor the staffing and funding needs of the Action Plan. And we hope that the Government will urge the Commission to pursue some other of the recommended actions in the Department for Transport's 2009 study. However, we have no questions to ask on the Commission's Communication itself and clear the document.

83   See and  Back

84   (30902) 13066/09: see HC 19-xxix (2008-09), chapter 8 (28 October 2009). Back

85   See Stg Co Deb, European Standing Committee, cols. 3-40. Back

86   See HC Deb, 2 July 2007, cols. 763-87. Back

87   (28154) 16540/1/06: see HC 41-vii (2006-07), chapter 5 (2 4 January 2007) and HC 41-xxiii (2006-07), chapter 2 (6 June 2007). Back

88   EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, is an intergovernmental organisation made up of 38 Member States and the EU - its main objective is development of a pan-European air traffic management system: see


89   Global Monitoring for Environment and Security: see  Back

90   Global Earth Observation System of Systems: see  Back

91   See  Back

92   See  Back

93   See  Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2010
Prepared 24 September 2010