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Europe's satnav finally hits the road

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Europe's satnav finally hits the road

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After months of talks, it is lift-off at last for Europe’s ambitious satellite navigation system. Galileo had struggled to find its way amid arguments over funding and contracts. But EU ministers agreed to use funds from farm subsidies to cover a 2.4 billion euro black hole, and spread construction work among prime contractors, and the deal was done.

EU Commission vice-President for Transport, Jacques Barrot said: “This is going to ensure Europe’s economic and strategic independence. Spatial navigation is really an indication of our power measured amongst other countries.”

Galileo’s critics worry that that it will never make money, given the domination of the US Global Positioning System, and similar projects planned by Russia and China.

The project survived objections from Madrid, which wanted a control centre sited in Spain. The two main centres are in Italy and Germany, and they refused to give way.