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Brussels, 26 March 2002

GALILEO : YES, at last !

Following on from the unanimous conclusions of the Barcelona European Council on 13-14 March, the Council of Transport Ministers today released the € 450m needed to develop GALILEO, Europe's satellite navigation and positioning system, and at the same time adopted the regulation establishing the joint undertaking responsible for operating it. The GALILEO project, which has been developed in conjunction with the European Space Agency, will enable users to accurately determine their positions in time and space at any given time. Its everyday uses are multiple, from radionavigation in individual cars to transport safety, not to mention the effects on the various commercial activities (banking sector, geology, public works, energy, etc.).

"Europe has finally taken the political decision to launch this strategic programme. Today we are seeing the creative side of Europe," declared Mrs Loyola de Palacio, the Commission Vice-president responsible for transport and energy. "This is good news and it shows the European Union's capacity to carry out an ambitious industrial project that will create 150 000 highly qualified jobs and generate income of some €10bn a year. It will help Europe to maintain its autonomy, its sovereignty, its technological capacity and control of its knowledge," she concluded.

GALILEO, the first satellite navigation and positioning system designed for civilian purposes, will be more advanced, more powerful and more reliable than the American GPS system, which currently holds a monopoly. Given the tremendous need for radionavigation in the years ahead, Europe cannot be content with a single, imperfect system. All segments of society will come to depend on an accurate positioning service, in transport, for example, but also in telecommunications, energy, finance, health, agriculture and fisheries. "The GALILEO project sets out to be perfectly compatible and redundant with GPS. The dovetailing of the two systems will make the whole more solid and more reliable," said Mrs Loyola de Palacio, "and it will help to prevent a monopoly situation and give everyone a choice".

GALILEO is vital to Europe's future in technological, economic and strategic terms. GALILEO will give Europe independence in, and control of, this technology, in the same way as it has done in other sectors with Ariane or Airbus. The economic spin-off will be enormous. Various studies put the potential market in equipment and services from this programme at around €10bn per year, with the creation of tens of thousands of highly qualified jobs in Europe. This advanced technology will be a trump card that will greatly enhance Europe's influence in the world in trade and industry. Today's agreement will enable the private sector to participate in the development of GALILEO under the best of circumstances.

The value of Galileo is not limited to the economy and firms: it will also clearly be a valuable tool for the emergency services (fire brigade, police, paramedics, sea and mountain rescue) which can intervene more rapidly in order to assist those in danger; Galileo can also be used to guide blind people, to monitor people suffering from Alzheimer's disease who have memory losses, and to guide explorers, hikers or sailing enthusiasts.

The development phase of GALILEO (2002 2005) aims to validate the technical options and create all the conditions needed for rapid deployment of the infrastructure, including the launching of the first test satellites. Financing of this phase will be provided jointly by the European Union, with a total of €550m, and the European Space Agency (ESA), for which ESA Council approved a commitment of €550m on 15 November 2001.

This phase will be managed by a joint undertaking whose founder members are the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA).

For the record:

GALILEO is Europe's satellite radionavigation programme.(1) It was launched on the initiative of the European Commission and will amount to the same kind of technological revolution as the one sparked off by mobile phones. It will also make for the development of a new generation of universal services in areas such as transport, agriculture or fisheries. To date, this technology, which promises to be highly profitable, is only mastered by the US GPS system and Russia's GLONASS system, both of which are financed and controlled by the military authorities. The GALILEO programme(2) will be administered and controlled by civilians and offers a guarantee of quality and continuity which is essential for many sensitive applications. Its complementarity with current systems will increase the reliability and availability of navigation and positioning services. A four-phase development procedure has been proposed: definition in 2000, development until 2005, deployment until 2008, followed by actual operation. The definition phase was completed at the end of 2000.(3)

Information on GALILEO is also available at the following address:

(1)Satellite radionavigation receivers make it possible to determine very precisely ones location at any given time by picking up signals emitted by several satellites.

(2)See Communication of 10 February 1999, COM (1999)54 final.

(3)The Commission presented the results of the definition phase in a Communication on 22 November 2001, COM(2000)750 final.

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