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Brussels deploys Galileo rescue plan

Farmers won't miss €2.2bn, say officials

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The European Union (EU) central bureaucracy has today announced its plan to save Galileo, the troubled European sat nav project. Brussels officials believe that no additional taxpayer cash would be required on top of existing EU plans, saying that funds could be reassigned from other areas.

According to AP, Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot told an EU Parliamentary committee that "Galileo is a strategic project for the EU. We don't want to depend on the GPS signal, as the United States can step in at any time for military reasons".

It's generally thought that an additional €2.4bn must be found for Galileo's construction, after it became clear earlier this year that private funding would not be forthcoming.

Barrot reportedly proposed that most of the money, €2.2bn, could be transferred from an unspent agriculture budget. The remaining €200m could be found from funds previously earmarked for research and EU administration.

The unspecified costs of maintaining and running the satellites would still - according to Barrot - be met by private industry, who would recoup their expenses by charging for added-value Galileo services.

It appears the commissioners may be shifting to an overtly military-strategic stance on Galileo. As originally proposed, Galileo was to be entirely civil and safety-architecture in nature, and as such would not be designed for intentional removal/degradation of service. This was seen as a big selling point over the civil signal of the existing US military GPS, which may be degraded or removed in a given area at the discretion of the Americans.

AP quotes Barrot today, however, as saying that "the debate still needs to be open" on the military aspects of Galileo. ®

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