Documents considered by the Committee on 4 July 2012 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents


1 Global satellite navigation systems


(33511)

17844/11

+ ADDs 1-2

COM(11) 814

Draft Regulation on the implementation and exploitation of European satellite navigation systems

Legal baseArticle 172 TFEU; co-decision; QMV
DepartmentBusiness, Innovation and Skills
Basis of considerationMinister's letter of 27 June 2012
Previous Committee ReportsHC 428-xlviii (2010-12), chapter 5 (25 January 2012) and HC 86-ii (2012-13), chapter 1 (16 May 2012)
Discussion in Council7-8 June 2012
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionFor debate in European Committee C (decision reported on 16 May 2012)

Background

1.1 The EU 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.

1.2 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 (ESA)[1] and there are a number of agreements in place or being negotiated with third countries about cooperation in the project.

1.3 The Galileo and EGNOS programmes have three phases:

  • the validation phase is already complete for EGNOS;
  • the validation phase of the Galileo programme is due for completion in 2013;
  • the deployment phase for EGNOS is already complete;
  • the deployment phase where the systems are built and tested is now underway for Galileo and the Commission estimates that it will be completed in 2020;
  • EGNOS is already in the exploitation phase, as services are already offered — an open service, a service for the dissemination and development of data for the development of commercial applications and a safety of life service; and
  • the exploitation phase for Galileo, where services are offered, is scheduled to begin in 2014 and to be complete by 2020.

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

  • Open Service, free of charge at the point of use — a basic service, but it is expected to potentially offer greater accuracy and coverage than GPS;
  • Commercial Service, offering for a fee added value for more demanding uses — that is expected to be professional users who need superior accuracy and guaranteed service;
  • Safety of Life Service, for safety-critical applications that require high integrity — this will have the same accuracy as the Open Signal, but with a service guarantee providing high reliability;
  • Search and Rescue Service, 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) — the service is more advanced than any comparable existing service: it relays the distress signal and location to the nearest rescue centre and informs the sender that that signal has been received and that help is on its way; and
  • Public Regulated Service (PRS), a high-performance, encrypted service for authorised civil government applications — such as for such as national security, law enforcement agencies, customs and excise. The potential users will need a service which is useable, available, reliable and secure. The main benefit of this service will be its greater resistance to jamming and interference than the other four services, the fact that it will remain operational if other services are turned off or locally denied (jammed) in times of crisis and the ability to deny signals to specific receivers and user groups.

1.5 This draft Regulation is to define the governance and financing framework for the Galileo and EGNOS programmes for the period 2014-20. It would replace the current Regulation (EC) No 683/2008, which sets out the governance and financing arrangements until 2014. It would enter into force on 1 January 2014.

1.6 In presenting this proposal the Commission:

  • recalled that, as required by the current Regulation, in January 2011 it published a mid-term review of the programmes' progress, which set out the implementation status of the programmes, recommendations to address risks to the programme and cost estimates to deliver and operate both programmes from 2014 onwards;[2]
  • recalled also that the March 2011 Competitiveness Council reiterated its support for the programmes, whilst recommending that the Commission submit a proposal to improve future governance of the programmes and that in June 2011 the European Parliament called on the Commission to improve its risk and cost management processes for the programmes; and
  • acknowledged that the programmes have been subject to delays and cost overruns in the past and that the timescale set out in the current Regulation has not been met.

1.7 The proposed Regulation sets out a new governance structure to address these concerns, based on what the Commission calls a strict division of tasks between itself, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) and the ESA. Member States and observers would continue to form the Programme Committee which advises the Commission on the management of the programmes. The draft Regulation would also provide that the funding for the two programmes for the period 2014-20 would be €7,897 million (£6,318 million), that is the Commission's proposal of €7,000 million (£5,668 million) in its draft Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2014-2020[3] inflated to current prices.

1.8 When we first considered this proposal, last January, we heard, subject to the need for some amendments and clarifications, that:

  • the Government supports the Galileo and EGNOS programmes and wishes to see Galileo services begin as quickly as possible; and
  • launch of initial services by 2014-15, as reiterated in the draft Regulation, would provide industry with the confidence to invest in downstream uses of the systems so that the greatest benefits could be realised from tax-payer investment made in the programmes.

But we heard also that:

  • this support must be seen, however, in the context of the Government's top priority in the next MFF — budgetary restraint;
  • the Government is committed to ensuring that the EU budget contributes to domestic fiscal consolidation;
  • the Prime Minister has stated, jointly with his EU counterparts, that the maximum acceptable expenditure increase in spend through the next MFF is a real freeze in payments; and
  • the Government does not support the increase in funding proposed for Galileo in the next MFF and will be seeking to reduce this.

1.9 We said that clearly adoption of this draft Regulation would mark the start of the next significant steps in the EU's global navigation satellite programme. However, before considering the document further we asked to hear about the Government's progress in securing the amendments and clarifications mentioned to us.

1.10 When we considered the matter again, in May, we heard that negotiations on the draft Regulation had gone well with many amendments to the text, which respond to the Government's concerns. However our attention was drawn to one significant remaining area — how the Galileo Security Accreditation Board should be serviced by a secretariat of staff. We learnt that:

  • to ensure true independence, the Government wants the secretariat to be functionally separate from the agency, the GSA, tasked with operating the system and providing services;
  • the Government would rather establish that in the Regulation now, but it seemed unlikely given the remaining time that it would be able to secure that; and
  • so the Government's goal was to ensure that the Regulation does not clearly weaken and harm the independence of the Board.

1.11 We also heard that it was the Danish Presidency's intention to secure agreement on a partial general approach on the draft Regulation at the Transport Council on 7-8 June and we were asked for a waiver, in terms of paragraph 3 of the Scrutiny Reserve Resolution of 17 November 1998, to allow the Government to support such a partial general approach.

1.12 We said that we were not prepared to give such a waiver. This was for two reasons. First, despite the assurances that such a partial general approach would leave the funding issue to be decided in the light of the outcome of the negotiation of the overall MFF, we were concerned that the Danish Presidency's desire to agree an accumulation of similar partial general approaches threatened to undermine efforts to cap the overall size of the MFF before allocation of funding for individual programmes. This was particularly the case in programmes such as this, where the activity proposed for agreement clearly implied, as the Government noted, a given amount of finance.[4] Our second reason was that we had wanted to consider the possibility of a debate on the proposal before the Transport Council in June, which the untimeliness of the Government's report to us would not now allow. Nevertheless we recommended that the document be debated in European Committee C, to consider the acceptability of the revised text of the draft Regulation, particularly in relation to the issue of the secretariat for the Galileo Security Accreditation Board.[5] That debate has yet to take place, but we understand that it is now scheduled for 11 July.

The Minister's letter

1.13 The Minister for Universities and Science, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr David Willetts) now writes with an account of the June Transport Council. He says that:

  • having considered our concerns about the possible implications for the wider negotiations on the MFF the Government decided not to agree to a partial general approach at the June Transport Council;
  • the Government tabled a formal statement to the minutes of the Council explaining its position;[6]
  • on the issue of the secretariat for the Security Accreditation Board, the Council as a whole recognised that a solution must be found to avoid a conflict of interest within the GSA once the proposed Regulation enters into force on 1 January 2014;
  • after that date, the GSA would be responsible for both the implementation of the Galileo and EGNOS systems as well as certifying that these systems met the necessary security requirements;
  • the Council made a statement calling for these tasks to be performed in a strictly independent manner and invited the Commission to bring forward a proposal to amend EC Regulation No 912/2010 establishing the GSA and any other necessary measures; and
  • the Government understands that the Commission intends to bring forward a proposal in the autumn.

Conclusion

1.14 We are grateful to the Minister for this information, which will, of course, be relevant to the debate we have already recommended on the draft Regulation.










1   See http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/About_ESA/SEMW16ARR1F_0.html and http://www.esa.int/esaNA/index.html.  Back

2   (32460) 5530/11: see HC 428-xvii (2010-11), chapter 2 (16 February 2011) and Gen Co Debs, European Committee A, 21 March 2011, cols. 3-16. Back

3   (32987) 12474/11 (32994) 12475/11: see HC 428-xxxv (2010-12), chapter 1 (7 September 2011) and HC Debs, 8 November 2011), cols 170-195. Back

4   Our concern about the cumulative effect of these partial general approaches and the need for clarification of the Government's position is set out in our recommendation for a debate, which has yet to take place, on the Commission Communication, A simplification agenda for the MFF (2014-2020), (33697) 6708/12: see HC 428-lv (2010-12), chapter 1 (21 March 2012).  Back

5   See headnote. Back

6   The statement, enclosed with the Minister's letter, can be seen at http://europeanmemorandum.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/.

 Back


 
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Prepared 12 July 2012