All systems go for Galileo after the EU reached agreement on funding the satellite navigation project to rival America’s Global Positioning System, or GPS. The European Commission had warned it would drop the initiative if there was no deal over financing by the end of this year. The 2.5 billion euro shortfall in the projects start-up costs will come from unspent money elsewhere in the EU budget.
Portugal’s representative at the meeting in Brussels said some of the funding would be redirected from the agriculture budget. But he stressed that it was money that was already earmarked for public spending and that nothing had been touched from future budgets. One diplomat was quoted as saying Germany, the biggest net contributor to the EU, was against the agreement but was outvoted.
Berlin is said to have opposed the use of unspent funds partly out of concern over the precedent it would set. The deal came after the Commission proposed tenders for Galileo in a bid to meet German demands that no one aerospace firm should dominate the project.
Supporters of Galileo say it is a vital technological platform for Europe. But critics say it could be a costly white elephant because the US system already has a dominant market position and Russia and China are working on their own versions.