Feeds

Merkel-Sarko confab could yield Galileo rescue plan

Brits, cloggies may need wits about them come December

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

German chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that Germany and France were working together to deliver a rescue plan for Galileo, the proposed European sat nav constellation.

"We are going to ask our transport ministries to draw up concrete proposals for the council of European transport ministers," said Merkel during a joint press conference with French premier Nicolas Sarkozy.

For his part, Sarkozy said he hoped that the plan would be ready "if possible before November 30".

European Union national transport ministers will meet in December to settle EU business, and Galileo will be a major agenda item. It is being hotly debated across Europe at present, as the programme is currently short of around €2.4bn in funding.

The missing billions were originally to have been provided by the European space-biz sector, but private industry ultimately did not believe they would recoup such a level of investment from Galileo pay services. (The American military GPS sat nav system already offers a very adequate civil service for free.) The European Commission (EC) - the EU's full-time officials - broke off negotiations with business leaders earlier this year, and it was agreed in principle by national transport ministers that the missing money would come from public coffers.

Disagreements since then have focused on the source and channelling of the necessary funds. The EC has suggested that the cash could be mostly found from unspent farm subsidies, which would otherwise revert to donor nations. Thus far, the countries which pay more into the EU that they get out (the UK, Holland and Germany) have opposed this plan, saying that instead the European Space Agency (ESA - a separate international body which occasionally cooperates with the EU but is not part of it) should take the lead.

The EC plan to divert farm subsidies would have suited France well. The French military in particular are uncomfortable with their present reliance on US sat nav, which can be denied or degraded in conflict zones at Washington's discretion. Satellite location services may or may not be critical to civilian economies, but they are genuinely very important for military operations of many kinds.

The UK, disposing of the other major European armed forces apart from France, has a much more comfortable military relationship with America. Britain, Germany and Holland also perceive the farm-subsidy plan as placing a disproportionate share of the expense on their treasuries - while benefit (and contracts) would be shared with other countries across Europe.

Now, however, it appears that France's new, more Atlanticist president may have managed to find some common ground with Ms Merkel. Any French plan enjoying solid German support would probably be difficult for the UK and Holland to resist next month.

Chancellor Merkel said she regretted that "many delays had accumulated since the beginning of this project".

Galileo was supposed to go live next year, but cannot now stand up much sooner than 2013 - assuming that an agreement can indeed be reached soon.

AFP coverage of the press conference is here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.