The EU is not breaking any speed records over Galileo. The member states’ transport ministers have agreed for the project to be funded publicly but they have put off discussing the details till autumn. The satellite navigation system’s concession holders backed away from coming up with 2.4 billion euros to top up one billion euros of public money already invested.
The European Commission, Parliament and most of the countries in the bloc back taking this out of existing EU funding. But EU officials say Britain, Germany and the Netherlands want individual states to contribute to the European Space Agency budget – to limit Commission influence and broaden the industrial application scope. “I can’t believe…” said Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot, almost at a loss to explain, “that Europeans and their governments can’t find a way, when the goal is such an absolute priority!”
Berlin says it is confident of finding a solution this year. Any new private sector role in the construction phase is also up in the air. Only one of Galileo’s satellites has been launched. The second of an intended 30 satellites missed its launch because of a short-circuit. It is a toss-up what will be the bigger challenge now: technical or political.