Brexit: Will UK be lost in space?

Brexit: Will UK be lost in space?
By Damon Embling
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Britain could be frozen out of parts of Galileo project, Europe's version of GPS


It is the EU's version of GPS. But Britain could be frozen out of the Galileo satellite navigation project - or at least part of it - because Brexit is sparking security concerns.

Peter Selding, Editor of SpaceIntelReport, told Euronews: "Right now, for certain aspects of Galileo, as any prudent programme manager would do, the European Commission is deciding to leave Britain out of certain discussions with respect to security."

According to reports, the UK is set to be blocked from work on Galileo's encrypted, government-only system - known as the Public Regulated Service (PRS).

The US and Norway are bidding for access to that system.

It creates uncertainty for UK companies already contributing to the overall, 10 billion-euro programme and is all the more political because, it's claimed, French businesses will benefit.

"I very much hope the European Commission will take the opportunity to see sense, re-calibrate its position and not play politics on something that is so vitally important, which is European defence and security," commented British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

In Brussels, the Commission's stressing that talks continue.

"Now is the right time to be thinking about adjusting cooperation with regard to the Galileo programme, to the way the EU cooperates with other third countries in such matters," Alexander Winterstein, Deputy Chief Spokesperson, told reporters. 

"I will not speculate on where our discussions, which are ongoing, will lead us."

Experts believe close security relations will win through in the end.

"Really, unless the people I talk to are way off base, there's little doubt that the US and Norway - and eventually the UK - will be allowed in PRS, at least access to it," said Selding. 

But the UK may need more than a satellite to guide it successfully out of this political minefield.

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