Brussels has approved a joint bid for the rights to build and operate Galileo. This is the European Union’s new satellite navigation system. The move is aimed at ensuring better value to the public, and it ends a long battle between former rival consortia. The two groups iNavSat and Eurely are made up primarily of German, French, Spanish and Italian industrial heavyweights. The two consortia joined forces after neither group’s bid won approval on its own. The project’s deployment phase alone is projected to cost 2.1 billion euros. Both public and private investment will go towards this. The body charged with awarding the contract was set up by the European Commission and the European Space Agency. It is known as the Galileo Joint Undertaking. It says talks on the 20-year concession contract should conclude before the end of this year. These should help limit the public sector’s financial contribution and boost commercial revenue prospects. Galileo is scheduled to go into service in 2008 and eventually will have 30 satellites for mostly civilian uses. It is the EU’s answer to the American military-operated global positioning system.