Documents considered by the Committee on 28 March 2018 Contents

2Swiss participation in the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Agency

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; waiver granted; further information requested

Document details

Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with the Swiss Confederation on an agreement laying down the terms and conditions for the participation of the Swiss Confederation in the European GNSS Agency

Legal base

Article 218(3) and (4); QMV

Department

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Document Number

(39370), 14927/17 + ADD 1,—

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

2.1The EU’s Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency, or GSA, is an agency of the European Union, set up by Regulation (EU) 912/2010 (the “GSA Regulation”).24 The GSA is tasked with operational, security and marketing responsibilities for the EU Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) Galileo25 and EGNOS.26 It is responsible for much of the day-to-day programme management of these systems, including tasks relating to the commercial exploitation of the programmes.

2.2The Commission proposes a Council Decision which would allow it to open negotiations with the Swiss regarding its participation in the GSA. This would build on an existing EU-Swiss Cooperation Agreement27 which enables it to participate, to a significant extent, in the EU’s GNSS Programmes. To date, Norway is the only non-EU country to participate in the GSA.

2.3In a ‘future partnership paper’28 on Collaboration on science and innovation the Government acknowledged that participation in the EU’s space programmes “provides important commercial opportunities to UK industry” and observed that “relevant EU legislation makes express provision for non-EU countries to participate in Galileo and Copernicus, although there is no standard framework for participation”. The paper stated that “the EU and UK should discuss all options for future cooperation, including new arrangements”. The paper did not discuss UK participation in the GSA, nor did the Prime Minister raise this possibility in her Mansion House speech,29 in which she indicated the Government’s desire to participate in three EU agencies: the European Medicines Agency, the European Chemicals Agency, and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

2.4We thank the Minister for her Explanatory Memorandum. We note her support for opening negotiations with Switzerland regarding their participation in the EU’s Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency, or GSA. Given the Government’s intention to “discuss all options for future cooperation, including new arrangements”30 in relation to the EU’s space programmes, we consider the Swiss relationship with the EU’s space programmes and this proposal to provide an interesting precedent which warrants further clarification.

2.5We note that Swiss participation in the GSA would supplement an existing Swiss-EU Cooperation Agreement which allows Switzerland to participate closely in the Galileo and EGNOS programmes, as well as addressing issues such as security, export controls, standardisation, certification and radio spectrum. We further note that under the terms of the EU-Swiss Cooperation Agreement Switzerland will not be permitted voting rights, and participation is not permitted in fora, working groups or discussions related to the Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS)31 unless a separate agreement is concluded.

2.6We ask the Government to clarify:

2.7We note the Government’s support for Swiss participation in the GSA and grant it a scrutiny waiver so that Ministers can participate fully in Council. We retain the proposal under scrutiny and ask for a response to our questions by 27 April 2018.

Full details of the documents

Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with the Swiss Confederation on an agreement laying down the terms and conditions for the participation of the Swiss Confederation in the European GNSS Agency: (39370), 14927/17 + ADD 1, —.

Background

Swiss-EU Cooperation Agreement

2.8Switzerland already participates in elements of the EU GNSS Programmes (Galileo and EGNOS) and contributes technical and industrial expertise in specific areas of satellite navigation. This was enabled through a Cooperation Agreement32 between Switzerland and the European Union signed in 2013 and provisionally applied since 1 January 2014.

2.9According to a Government Explanatory Memorandum33 produced in relation to the Cooperation Agreement in 2012, it permits “a framework to be put in place to allow Switzerland to participate closely in the Galileo and EGNOS programmes and address issues such as security, export control, standardisation, certification and radio spectrum for the Swiss technologies used as fundamental parts of the Galileo programme. Since Switzerland is not part of the EU, the regulations that set the framework for security for instance for the EU Member States do not apply. It is necessary to ensure that such a framework is put in place and the agreement allows that to be done”.

2.10Switzerland currently hosts an EGNOS ground station. From the period 2014–2017 Switzerland has financially contributed circa €240m to the EU GNSS Programmes.

The proposal34

2.11Switzerland submitted a request to participate in the GSA on 20 May 2014. The Commission states that on the basis of its long-standing cooperation and contribution to the European GNSS Programmes since the 1990s, and its “specific, sometimes exclusive, technical know-how in certain sectors of satellite navigation technology”, the document recommends the opening of negotiations with Switzerland.

2.12The Commission’s proposal for a Council Decision notes that Article 23 of the GSA Regulation (912/2010) permits the participation of third countries in the Agency, and that Article 16 of the GNSS Cooperation Agreement with Switzerland grants it the right to participate in the GSA under conditions to be laid out in a separate agreement.

2.13The Commission also observes that:

2.14The scope of the future agreement is set out in an Annex37 which notes that provisions regarding a dispute settlement mechanism and for termination should be included in the Agreement.

The Government’s position38

2.15The Minister of State at BEIS (Claire Perry) states that the Government is supportive of agreements between third countries and the EU’s Satellite Navigation Programmes allowing for mutually beneficial cooperation. The Minister adds that the UK’s future relationship with the EU GNSS Programmes and the European GNSS Agency “will depend on the outcome of the exit negotiations and future Government decisions”.

UK position paper

2.16On 9 September 2017 the Government published a “future partnership paper”39 on collaboration on science and innovation, in which it stated that:

“The UK space sector has played a major role in the development of the main EU space programmes by providing highly skilled personnel and technology. Participation provides important commercial opportunities to UK industry. Space is inherently collaborative and the relevant EU legislation makes express provision for non-EU countries to participate in Galileo and Copernicus, although there is no standard framework for participation.”

And that:

“The UK has been especially involved in the development of the Galileo security modules and encryption, which are integral to a secure and resilient system. The UK is also recognised for its specialist capability in the area of earth observation. The space surveillance services provided by the new SST programme will underpin an innovative launch capability which the UK is looking to develop. Given the unique nature of the space programmes’ applications to security in addition to science and innovation, and the extent of the UK’s involvement, the EU and UK should discuss all options for future cooperation, including new arrangements.”

Previous Committee Reports

None.


24 Regulation (EU) 912/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 setting up the European GNSS Agency, repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1321/2004 on the establishment of structures for the management of the European satellite radio navigation programmes and amending Regulation (EC) No 683/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

25 Galileo is the EU’s global navigation system similar to the US GPS system.

26 European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Services, a satellite based augmentation system.

27 Cooperation agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the European Satellite Navigation Programmes OJ L 15/3 20.1.2014.

28 HM Government, Collaboration on science and innovation—a future partnership paper (6 September 2017).

29 HM Government, PM speech on our future economic partnership with the European Union (2 March 2018).

30 HM Government, Collaboration on science and innovation—a future partnership paper (6 September 2017).

31 Public Regulated Service (PRS) means a service provided by the system established under the Galileo programme which is restricted to government authorised users for sensitive applications which require effective access control and a high level of service continuity.

32 Cooperation agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the European Satellite Navigation Programmes OJ L 15/3 20.1.2014.

33 Explanatory Memorandum from the Minister, BEIS, to the Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee (24 September 2012).

34 Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with the Swiss Confederation on an agreement laying down the terms and conditions for the participation of the Swiss Confederation in the European GNSS Agency 14927/17.

35 Cooperation agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the European Satellite Navigation Programmes OJ L 15/3 20.1.2014.

36 Public Regulated Service (PRS) means a service provided by the system established under the Galileo programme which is restricted to government authorised users for sensitive applications which require effective access control and a high level of service continuity.

37 Annex to the Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations with the Swiss Confederation on an agreement laying down the terms and conditions for the participation of the Swiss Confederation in the European GNSS Agency 14927/17 ADD 1.

38 Explanatory Memorandum from the Minister, BEIS, to the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee (10 January 2018).

39 HM Government, Collaboration on science and innovation—a future partnership paper (6 September 2017).




3 April 2018