Select Committee on European Scrutiny Forty-First Report





Commission Communication on the state of progress of the GALILEO programme.

Legal base:
Document originated:24 September 2002
Deposited in Parliament:4 October 2002
Basis of consideration:EM of 23 October 2002
Previous Committee Report:None
To be discussed in Council:Not known
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Not cleared

The document

  4.1  The Commission reports in this Communication on progress on the global navigation and positioning satellite system, GALILEO. The report covers:

  • the Joint Undertaking (JU), the founder members of which are the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA), and which is to undertake research, development and validation activities required before GALILEO can be deployed in 2005. The report notes a delay in setting up the JU following problems within ESA in finalising the respective contributions of the participating states;

  • system security: the JU Regulation requires a Security Board. There is currently a debate about the Board, including its terms of reference and who should chair it; possibilities include the Commission, the Presidency or a joint chair of the Presidency and Commission;

  • definition of services: the report describes services which the Commission thinks GALILEO should offer. It says it is essential to make final decisions about these by the end of 2002. The services are:

—  an open, free basic service, mainly involving applications for the general public and services of general interest;

—  a commercial service facilitating the development of professional applications and offering enhanced performance compared with the basic service;

—  a "vital" service (safety of life service) of a very high quality and integrity for safety-critical applications, such as aviation and shipping;

—  a search and rescue service, greatly improving existing relief and rescue services;

—  a public regulated service (PRS), encrypted and resistant to jamming and interference, reserved principally for the public authorities responsible for civil protection, national security and law enforcement, which demand a high level of continuity.

  • reservation of frequencies: if GALILEO is to provide the services suggested, it needs access to the radio spectrum allocated to satellite radio-navigation services by past World Radio-communication Conferences (WRC). The EU applied for GALILEO to use certain frequencies, as have the USA, the People's Republic of China, and the Russian Federation in respect of their systems. The Commission says that at the next WRC in July 2003 the EU will need to ensure that the spectrum allocated to satellite navigation affords the flexibility needed for GALILEO to provide all planned services;

  • relations with third countries: the report highlights the importance of international co-operation and describes the progress of negotiations with the USA and the Russian Federation. The Commission has had informal talks with the People's Republic of China and other third countries, but it does not yet have formal directives from the Council to negotiate with these countries. It is preparing a proposal for a formal negotiating directive with China and it intends to seek from the Council a negotiating directive in the form of a model agreement that can be used for all other third countries.

  4.2  The document gives some detail about why a PRS is required and the reasoning for one of the two proposed signals for the PRS to overlay one of the two proposed military (or code M) GPS signals, a proposal opposed by the USA. Annex 1 to the report adds some more detail about the services proposed. Annex 2 gives the characteristics of the service signals.

The Government's view

  4.3  The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Mr David Jamieson) comments:

"The Government has consistently supported the development of satellite navigation and positioning in Europe. It recognises the potential benefits that this technology could bring to transport and to the UK generally. The Government has given both political and financial support for the development of EGNOS [the European Geo-stationary Navigation OverlayService] and to the definition phase of Galileo.

       "The UK Government continues to support Galileo in principle, but, like some other Member States, retains some concerns about aspects of the Galileo programme. Many of the UK concerns have been recognised by past Transport Councils and indeed by the March Council of this year. Specific conditions have been attached to decisions of the Council to ensure that Galileo remains a civil programme, there is co-operation with the US and interoperability between Galileo and the civil elements of GPS and other conditions concerning the financing and viability of the project, particularly as a public-private partnership.

       "The Government supports the establishment of the JU. It is seeking with other member states of ESA to resolve the subscription issue so that the JU can be set up and the development and validation phase can be implemented. The Government considers the Presidency should chair the JU Security Board.

"As yet the EU has made no definitive decisions about the services to be provided by Galileo. The Government considers that further work during the development and validation phase will help to clarify what services are viable and should be made available. This includes the negotiations between the JU and private consortia bidding for the PPP [public-private partnership] for later phases of Galileo, which will clearly want a say in determining the services to be provided and how these could be funded. PRS might reduce the capacity for commercial and private user services.

"The Government is not in principle opposed to PRS as long as it is a civil signal. The Council in March reiterated that Galileo was a civil system, but the Communication states that PRS will be used for peacekeeping and national security, roles that are normally carried out by military organisations. Although some of the space segment costs of PRS have been estimated there has been no estimation of the costs of the ground segment including procedures to ensure the security of the system. Hence, the Government considers that there is a need to clarify the costs, benefits, how it will work, how it will be controlled securely, who will control it, what civil organisations will be allowed to use it and how it will be funded during the later phases.

"The Government is opposed to any Galileo signal including any PRS signal overlaying the proposed GPS M-Code. This would not be acceptable on grounds of UK national security and our international obligations to NATO. Additionally the Government is not convinced that an overlay is necessary for efficient use of the allocated radio navigation spectrum. The Government hopes that further detailed negotiations between the US and EU will lead to an acceptable solution to all of the parties.

"The Government considers that if the full benefits of satellite navigation for the civil community are to be realised there needs to be global co-operation and interoperability of systems. For example, for safety, efficiency and cost effective reasons, international aviation and shipping needs global interoperability of systems. So in principle the Government does not object to any third country participation. But the Government would expect to see specific proposals by the Commission before making decisions in relation to any specific country."


  4.4  This document reports on an important project and we note with interest the Minister's comments. We would like the Minister to keep us informed of progress on GALILEO, particularly in relation to the GPS M-Code issue. Meanwhile we do not clear the document.

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Prepared 25 November 2002