The future of the European satellite navigation system, Galileo, is being put in jeopardy by a spat between France and Germany. The two countries are at loggerheads over how the construction of the system will be paid for.
EU transport ministers have been meeting in Luxembourg to try to break the deadlock.
Germany’s transport minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said:
“The German government disagrees with the European Commission proposal. But we want Galileo to be a success. Europe needs Galileo. Germany is going to defend this project, but there are still too many things to discuss.”
The European Commission has proposed that most of the 2.4 billion euros now needed should come from unused EU agricultural and other budgets – to be repaid once the system is in operation.
Germany believes that would benefit French and Italian firms and penalise German companies.
The European Transport Commissioner, Jacques Barrot said:
“It’s true there’s been no decision, but there’s been a broad exchange of views, and I believe the delegations are moving closer to an agreement on the financial framework proposed by the Commission. And the assumed costs of operation seem reasonable, at least to the vast majority of delegates.”
The clock is ticking for the decision-makers. Unless they agree soon, the Galileo project could be overshadowed by a new American GPS system, which is already in development.