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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 18 December 2013

Switzerland joins the EU's Galileo satellite navigation programme

Today Switzerland signed a cooperation agreement to participate in the Galileo and EGNOS programmes – the pillars of the EU's Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Switzerland will now fully financially participate in the programmes, and will retroactively contribute €80 million for the period 2008-2013. The agreement, signed in Brussels, also covers cooperation in areas such as security, export control, standards, certification and industrial cooperation.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship commented: "I welcome Switzerland's decision to fully step on board the European space programme. This co-operation will not only help to provide better results for the EU's satellite navigation services, it will also open up a series of business opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises both from Switzerland and the EU.

EU Swiss cooperation on satellite navigation

Through its membership of the European Space Agency (ESA), Switzerland has contributed to Galileo's development phase. For example, the state-of-the-art hydrogen-maser clocks used by the Galileo satellites originate from Switzerland. Such extremely accurate clocks are crucial to a number of sectors. Wireless telecommunication networks use Galileo satellites' timing signal for network management, for time tagging and for synchronisation of frequency references. Certified time stamps are also necessary for applications such as electronic banking, e-commerce, stock transactions, quality assurance systems and services.

With the signing of this agreement Switzerland will now participate in the EU satellite navigation programmes and in their committees and working groups. Norway, another ESA member who is not a member of the EU, signed a similar agreement with the Commission in 2010.

Studies show that Galileo will deliver around €90 billion to the EU economy over the first 20 years of operation, while from now until 2020, the EU will spend €7 billion on satellite navigation. Switzerland's financial contribution for the period 2014-2020 will be calculated in accordance with the standard formula1 applied for the Swiss participation in the EU research Framework Programme.


Galileo is the programme of the European Commission to develop a global satellite navigation system under European civilian control. Galileo will allow users to know their exact position in time and space, just like the USA's GPS, but with greater precision and reliability. It will be compatible and, for some of its services, interoperable with GPS and Russia's Glonass, but independent from them.

EGNOS, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, is a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) that improves the accuracy and provides integrity to the GPS signal over most of Europe. For example, EGNOS has already made air navigation safer at some 90 European airports. It is Europe's first venture into satellite navigation and a major stepping-stone towards Galileo.

Today, positioning and timing signals provided by satellite navigation systems are used in many critical areas of the economy, including power grid synchronization, electronic trading and mobile phone networks, effective road, sea and air traffic management, in-car navigation, search and rescue service, to mention but a few applications.

More information available at:

Cooperation agreement between the EU and Switzerland

IP/13/1129: Parliament approves financing for the European satellite navigation programmes until 2020

Contacts :

Carlo Corazza (+32 2 295 17 52) @ECspokesCorazza

Sara Tironi (+32 2 299 04 03)

1 :

calculated on the basis of the proportionality factor obtained by the ratio between Switzerland's gross domestic product and the sum of the gross domestic products of EU countries

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