GALILEO: PROGRESS REPORT (11834/04, 13300/04)
Letter from Stephen Ladyman MP, Minister
of State for Transport, Department for Transport to the Chairman
I last wrote to your Committee about Galileo
on 29 November 2005.
Your Committee maintains a scrutiny reserve on issues arising
from Explanatory Memorandums 11834/04 and 13300/04. This letter
is to update you on developments since November.
We continue to support the UK objectives. The
priorities are: a civil programme under civil control; and a robust,
public private partnership (PPP). The main focus continues to
be on the PPP negotiations. Discussions have just started at official
level about the policy of access to the secure governmental service,
You asked in your letter of 14 December
for an explanation of the ways in which the project will add value
to the advantages already available from similar commercial systems.
In doing this I must draw a distinction between
the provision of the infrastructure (the satellites and associated
ground stations) for Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)
and the development of applications that make use of the infrastructure
(the receivers and the software associated with them).
There are currently two constellations of GNSS
satellites, the American GPS and the Russian GLONASS. The Russian
system is slowly being resurrected from a rundown state caused
by lack of funding. Both are fully publicly funded and are essentially
military systems developed during the Cold War years although
the open service is available so that anyone with a suitable receiver
can use it. No guarantee of service and availability can be assumed.
The US Government has given an undertaking of some level of continuity
in recognition of the rapidly developing GPS applications. In
December 2004, they broadened the management and funding of the
system to include the Federal Transportation Department.
Over the last 10 years or so, many commercial
companies have made use of the existence of the GPS open signal
to develop applications that provide positioning and timing data
for civilian users. They do so, however with no guarantee of service
and the applications are therefore unsuitable for safety-critical
To make use of the open GPS signal for safety-critical
applications, regional augmentation systems are being developed
which give users a virtually instant notification of errors in
the GIPS and allow them to switch to a back-up navigation aid
if necessary. These include the European EGNOS and WAAS, its American
equivalent. These systems monitor GNSS performance at ground stations
in a defined area and rebroadcast correction and integrity information
via geostationary satellites. The differential GPS network provided
in the UK by the General Lighthouse Authorities does the same
thing around the UK coast, using VHF radio to broadcast the informationwith
a much more limited range.
Galileo will provide a GNSS under civil, European
control, and designed from the outset for civil purposes. It will
be complementary with GPS. In its basic form the open service
will supplement the existing GNSS signals to give a more accurate
and reliable position, less so vulnerable to distortion and blocking.
It will also provide additional services, not offered by GPS and
GLONASS. These include a safety-of-life service with an integrity
guarantee that will be available world-wide, and a commercial
service that will allow service providers to offer equipment and
software adding value to the basic positioning information. The
other two services to be included in the Galileo signals are the
PRS, the encrypted signal for use by government organisations
in situations where it may be necessary to block the other GNSS
signals, and an enhanced Search and Rescue service. This will
give more accurate positioning of casualties and allow an acknowledgement
of their distress signal.
Although Galileo has been developed so far with
public money, the opportunity for commercial added-value applications
will enable the deployment and operation phase to be funded through
a Public-Private Partnership. We expect that the increasing miniaturisation
and cost-reduction in GNSS receivers will continue to encourage
development of innovative applications in transport, energy, finance,
recreation and other sectors.
No decisions on Galileo are on the agenda for
the Transport Council on 27 March. We expect an update on the
key elements of the concession negotiations, which have been agreed
with the consortium. Vice President Barrot may also comment on
these key elements. Over lunch, the schedule may include a discussion
about agreements with third countries during the deployment (PPP)
We expect the June Council to receive an assessment
from the Commission on the final costs and risks of the concession
contract. This is required by the Council conclusions of December
2004, and supported by a minutes statement by the UK and Austria.
We continue to work with the Presidency and like-minded colleagues
to ensure that this assessment will be rigorous and comprehensive.
My November letter outlined the delays to the
programme that resulted from the merger of the two consortia bidding
for the PPP. Vice President Barrot asked the former Competition
Commissioner Karel van Miert to broker a solution. The outcome
was agreed by the members of the two consortia and presented for
information to the Transport Council by Vice President Barrot.
In subsequent correspondence, I stressed to the Vice President
that the agreement between the consortium must be demonstrated
to retain technical and economic efficiency. Council would have
to decide whether the costs and risks of the concession contract
were acceptable to the public sector. He assured me that the agreement
did not commit either the Commission or the Member States, that
the contract has to be affordable for the public sector and had
to deliver considerable benefits. He also confirmed that the Commission
will submit a reasoned analysis before signature of the contract
"for a political assessment and endorsement by the Council
and the Parliament". Officials have followed up these points
with the Commission and Barrot's cabinet.
The agreement between the consortium partners
included decisions about lead responsibilities, if their PPP bid
is successful. Inmarsat, the only UK company involved, will take
the lead in the operating company, and its headquarters will be
Negotiations on the PPP concession are now under
way. Partial agreement has been reached on nine key elements,
and we expect this to be presented to the Council. The timetable
for concluding the negotiations, including with the financial
institutions which will provide most of the capital, is end 2006.
This is more realistic than previous deadlines, but still demanding.
The European Investment Bank is supporting the Commission, and
an independent consultant has been appointed to produce the assessment
expected for the June Council. Officials will continue to press
for full transparency, especially on the overall costs and liabilities,
and for a comprehesive assessment.
I will provide you with an Explanatory Memorandum
before the June Council.
GNSS SUPERVISORY AUTHORITY
The Galileo Joint Undertaking (GJU) is the organisation
managing the current programme and the negotiations. Under its
statutes, established by Council Regulation (EC) No 876/2002,
it has a finite life ending on 31 May 2006. To ensure continuity
in the negotiations, the Commission proposes amending the Regulation
to allow the GJU to be wound down gradually until the end of 2006.
Budgetary and administrative procedures are being put in place
to provide for a managed handover of responsibilities other than
the negotiations from the GJU to the GNSS Supervisory Authority
(GSA) during the course of the year.
The GSA will own the Galileo system on behalf
of the Community and act as regulator of the PPP. It is being
established in Brussels for an interim period, for good logistical
reasons. The UK bid for the GSA to be located in Cardiff continues
to be promoted by the Welsh Assembly Government, with support
from my officials and the FCO.
It is not yet clear when the draft financial
regulation for Galileo will be brought forward; discussions on
the EU budget have not yet progressed to that level of detail.
The timetable for completion of the satellite
system has now slipped considerably. Because of earlier delays
to the programme, and additional security costs, ESA asked its
member states to contribute 187 million more for the In-Orbit
Validation (IOV) phase of the programme. The Commission is expected
to provide 201 million. The decision to open this funding
process in ESA was delayed last autumn because of the political
context of the merger of the two consortia. Provided ESA secures
commitments from at least the five largest current contributors
in the next few months, the launch of the first four operational
satellites is now expected in the second half of 2008, with handover
to the concessionaire in May 2009.
The timetable envisaged by the prospective concession
consortium envisages that the remainder of the thirty satellites
will be launched by the end of 2010. As the Galileo system will
be compatible with the existing GPS open service, some of the
benefits of Galileo will start to become apparent from 2008 although
the full commissioning of some of the specific Galileo services
that are not available with GPS, such as the Safety of Life service,
will have to await the deployment of the full constellation.
The EGNOS service is expected to be certificated
for aviation use in 2007. EGNOS was originally developed for aviation
and will be integrated in the Galileo PPP.
The Austrian Presidency expected to bring forward
Council Conclusions on co-operation with third countries in the
PPP phase. These have been delayed pending further discussion
in the Commission on the legal position, and whether it is desirable
that third countries become members of the Galileo Supervisory
Authority. Under existing agreements, China and Israel are members
of the Galileo Joint Undertaking. They, Norway, and Switzerland
have requested membership of the GSA.
In the preliminary discussions, we have stressed
that membership, if granted, should mean sharing liabilities as
well as costs. We would oppose giving access to the PRS governmental
service to third countries. A lunchtime discussion may take place
at the March Transport Council.
Several other countries have expressed interest
in some form of co-operation, including Saudi Arabia, Australia
and New Zealand. It is agreed that the Commission will not seek
new negotiating mandates until agreement has been reached on the
21 March 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Stephen Ladyman
Thank you for your letter of 21 March 2006,
replying to my letter of 14 December 2005. Sub-Committee B considered
your letter at its meeting on 19 April 2006.
We were grateful for your update on this important
project, and for your explanation of the timetable and the ways
in which Galileo will add value to the similar systems already
in existence and commercially available.
You write that "Galileo will provide a
GNSS under civil, European control and designed from the outset
for civil purposes". Can you confirm whether Galileo will
be used solely for civil purposes, or will there be military applications?
If there were military applications, under what system of control
and governance would they operate? Furthermore, could you clarify
the difference between "Safety of Life Services" and
"Enhanced Search and Rescue"?
You also write that the Government's PRS signal
"may be necessary to block other GNSS signals". Could
you give us an example of where signal blocking would be necessary?
We note that a number of key elements to this
proposal are still to be negotiated and await the Explanatory
Memorandum which you will provide to us before the June Council.
We will maintain the scrutiny reserve at this stage.
24 April 2006
Letter from Stephen Ladyman MP to the
Thank you for your letter of 24 April responding
to my earlier one of 21 March on the Galileo programme.
You asked about the nature of the programme.
Galileo has been confirmed as a civilian system under civilian
control. This has been restated by successive Transport Councils,
most notably that of December 2004. It was also agreed at this
Council that any change to that principle should be considered
as a "Pillar II" issue; which, under the terms of the
EU Treaty, requires the unanimous agreement of all member states.
As you know Ministers have given assurances that we would use
our veto to maintain this.
You also asked for clarification of the purpose
of three of the five services that will be provided by Galileo:
the Safety of Life (SoL), the enhanced Search and Rescue (SAR)
and the Public Regulated Signal (PRS).
The SoL service is aimed at transport applications
such as aviation and shipping, where guaranteed accuracy is essential
It will provide a high level of integrity for such safety critical
The SAR service will enhance existing search
and rescue systems in a number of ways, but most importantly it
will enable distress messages to be received instantly from around
the world (currently the average waiting time is about an hour)
and for the location to be specified to within a few metres (rather
than the current level of precision of about 5 kilometres).
Finally, the PRS will be a highly robust and
access-controlled service. Its signal would be encrypted, and
be more resistant to jamming and interference. It would only be
available to authorised government sponsored users, including
emergency services, and is expected to remain available in periods
where it may be necessary for other signals to be deliberately
degraded or blocked to assist civil protection or in times of
There are no decisions on the Galileo PPP on
the agenda for the Transport Council in June and there is every
liklihood that there will not be any before December. However,
we expect there to be an oral presentation from the Commission.
There has not been a great deal of progress on the Galileo programme
since my previous letter, which is why I am sending this latest
update as a further letter instead of the Supplementary EM that
I had expected to be able to send you. I will continue to keep
you informed of progress on this programme and expect to send
you a Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum after the June Council.
18 May 2006
Letter from the Chairman to Stephen Ladyman
Thank you for your letter of 18 May 2006, replying
to my letter of 24 April. Sub-Committee B considered your letter
at its meeting on 5 June.
We were grateful to you for your responses to
our questions. You write that the Safety of Life service (SoL)
is designed for transport applications "where guaranteed
accuracy is essential". Could you give an example of where
this would apply? We will await the Supplementary Explanatory
Memorandum from you following the June Council. We will maintain
the scrutiny reserve at this stage.
6 June 2006
Letter from Stephen Ladyman MP to the
Thank you for your letter of 6 June on the Galileo
satellite navigation programme.
I enclose Explanatory Memoranda (EM) on two
recent Commission documents (not printed).
EM 10431/06 refers to a Commission proposal
to amend the Regulation that established the Galileo GNSS Supervisory
Authority (GSA) and EM 10427/06 addresses the Commission communication
on the current status of the Galileo programme.
You had asked for a formal Supplementary EM
to update the Committee on the Galileo programme. I understand
your Clerk has since agreed with officials that given the broad
and comprehensive nature of EM 10427/06, that you will be content
to accept the enclosed document as meeting your request.
14 July 2006
34 Correspondence with Ministers 45th Report of Session
2005-06, HL Paper 243, pp 139-141. Back
Correspondence with Ministers 45th Report of Session 2005-06,
HL Paper 243, pp 141. Back