Documents considered by the Committee on 13 March 2013 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

7 Global navigation satellite systems



COM(13) 40

Draft Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 912/2010 setting up the European GNSS Agency

Legal baseArticle 172 TFEU; co-decision; QMV
Document originated6 February 2013
Deposited in Parliament19 February 2013
DepartmentBusiness, Innovation and Skills
Basis of considerationEM of 8 March 2013
Previous Committee ReportNone
Discussion in CouncilNot known
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared, further information requested


7.1 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.

7.2 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)[28] and there are a number of agreements in place or being negotiated with third countries about cooperation in the project.

7.3 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.

7.4 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;

·  Commercial Service, offering for a fee added value for more demanding uses;

·  Safety of Life Service, for safety-critical applications that require high integrity;

·  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); and

·  Public Regulated Service (PRS), a high-performance, encrypted service for authorised civil government applications.

7.5 In 2010 Regulation (EU) No 912/2010 established the European Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Agency (GSA) to manage aspects of the GNSS programmes. The Regulation set out the governance arrangements and roles of the different components of GNSS programme management — the Administration Board, the GSA itself and the Security Accreditation Board (SAB).[29]

7.6 In 2012 a common approach on EU agencies, requiring adaptation of the founding acts of existing agencies, such as the GSA, following a case by case analysis, was adopted. We are currently scrutinising the Commission's Roadmap on the follow-up to the Common Approach on EU decentralised agencies.[30]

7.7 From early in 1999 previous Committees have reported to the House on many aspects of the EGNOS and Galileo projects and the matter has been debated several times in European Standing Committee, in European Committee or on the Floor of the House. We ourselves last reported on GNSS in relation to a draft Regulation to define the governance and financing framework for the EGNOS and Galileo programmes for the period 2014-20 (in this chapter "the main draft Regulation"). It would replace the current Regulation (EC) No 683/2008, which sets out the governance and financing arrangements until 2014 and would enter into force on 1 January 2014.[31]

The document

7.8 The intention of the main draft Regulation is that the GSA will take on a more substantive role in the operation and management of the programmes during the 2014-20 period. From 1 January 2014, the Commission would transfer responsibility to the Agency for the day-to-day operation and management of the EGNOS programme and, in 2016, similarly for the Galileo programme. This draft Regulation seeks to modify Regulation (EU) No 912/2010, which established the GSA in order to both:

·  make necessary consequential changes to the role and functioning of the GSA in light of those proposals; and

·  align governance of the Agency with the agreed Common Approach for all EU Agencies.

7.9 Amendments proposed to the 2010 GSA Regulation concern the following matters:

·  since 2010, the SAB has been part of the Agency, giving it a key role in ensuring that the EU's GNSS systems are secure — it is important that decisions relating to security accreditation can be made in an independent manner from decisions relating to operational and programme management, so the draft Regulation would introduce a "Chinese wall" to ensure the independence of the SAB and avoid any conflict of interest within the Agency;

·  there are a number of minor consequential changes — when appropriate, and where specific agreements with the EU have been approved, third countries will, at times, participate in the work on GNSS programmes and the draft Regulation would enable participation by third countries in the SAB in such circumstances;

·  the main draft Regulation is intended to set out the conditions that would allow Member States to contribute extra funds to the programme — so this draft Regulation would enable the GSA to award contracts jointly with Member States, in accordance with the financial rules of the EU;

·  the draft Regulation would amend the legislative financial statement for the 2010 GSA Regulation to reflect the increased resources required to fulfil the broader range of functions from 2014 onwards — it is estimated that GSA staff will increase to 156 by 2020, from approximately 61 in 2012, the number of Commission staff will reduce by 30, including three staff transferring to the GSA, the overall increase in staff, on 2012 levels, working on the GNSS programmes will be 65 and the reduction in Commission staff numbers will be in addition to the horizontal reduction of 5% in the Commission's staff levels to 2017; and

·  some of the proposed amendments in the draft Regulation would incorporate into the GSA's operational conditions, governance, functioning and oversight, the Common Approach elements for EU agencies — this would include elements such as the length of terms of office, voting rules and provision for agency staff.

The Government's view

7.10 The Minister for Universities and Science, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Mr David Willetts), saying that the Government welcomes the Commission's proposal, comments that it is a necessary complement to the main draft Regulation.

7.11 The Minister comments further that:

·  the Government agrees on the need to put in place strong measures to ensure the independence of the SAB — governance structures will be key to ensure that security measures relating to GNSS programmes are sufficiently strong, so that operational delivery imperatives cannot undermine due consideration for security issues and actions, such as accreditation;

·  the Government's objective is to ensure implementation of all aspects of independence for the SAB;

·  it is broadly satisfied that the reporting chains, the delegations of responsibility, the staffing and financial management, the SAB's involvement in work programmes and annual reporting and the access to information that have been set out in the Commission's proposal are consistent with this objective;

·  the Government wishes to explore how a balanced representation from Member States across the working groups of the Agency can be assured;

·  it agrees that it may be appropriate to enable participation by third countries in the SAB in specific circumstances and will seek to ensure that the appropriate international agreements, subject to scrutiny in their own right, are in place, as proposed by the Commission;

·  the Government welcomes the proposed amendments relating to the possibility for the Agency to enter into joint contracts with Member States, on specific projects;

·  it welcomes the Commission's proposals in relation to the estimated changes in staffing levels — the Government recognises the need for GSA to expand, notes the redistribution of three staff from the Commission to the Agency and notes the reduction in Commission staff to meet its staff targets;

·  the Government is broadly content on the Common Approach on the EU agencies as it applies to the GSA — many of the measures introduced as a result of the Common Approach should strengthen the governance arrangements for the Agency and bring it into line with best practice;

·  its position is that greater levels of accountability and clearer evidence of results are required in order to demonstrate the value of the agencies;

·  examples of the improved governance arrangements include prevention and management of conflicts of interest, stronger and more detailed fraud prevention protections, introduction of multi-annual work planning, handling of non-classified sensitive information and evaluating the GSA by 2016, and every five years thereafter;

·  the Government is considering the amendments relating to changes to voting rules for decisions such as the appointment of the Executive Director and the adoption of the work programme and will seek to ensure that the changes are consistent with the programme objectives;

·  there is no financial implication for the UK from the Commission's proposal;

·  application of the Common Approach to the GSA, like the wider application to other EU agencies, seeks to enhance financial efficiency by ensuring that there should be a greater supervision of budgetary management by the board and also by the EU institutions; and

·  the Government welcomes moves to improve the financial management, transparency and efficiency of the GSA, in keeping with the current climate of budgetary restraint.


7.12 Clearly amending the legislative provisions for the GSA, both in relation to the next programme period and to the Common Approach for EU agencies, is important and we recognise that the Government is content with the general thrust of the draft Regulation. However, we note that there are a number of matters to which the Government is giving further consideration or on which it is seeking assurance. So we should like to have in due course, before we consider the draft Regulation further, an account of the Government's developing thinking and of the direction of Member States' consideration of the proposal. Meanwhile the document remains under scrutiny.

28   See and Back

29   The SAB is the authority that will make formal declarations that GNSS systems are approved to operate at an acceptable level of risk, based on the implementation of an approved set of safeguards. Back

30   (34625) 5022/13: see HC 86-xxxii (2012-13), chapter 4 (13 February 2013). Back

31   (33511) 17844/11 + ADDs 1-2: see HC 428-xlviii (2010-12), chapter 5 (25 January 2012), HC 86-ii (2012-13), chapter 1 (16 May 2012), HC 86-vii (2012-13), chapter 1 (4 July 2012) and Gen Co Debs, European Committee C, 11 July 2012, cols. 3-14. Back

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2013
Prepared 22 March 2013