The European Commission today proposed the setting-up of a Joint Undertaking to complete the development phase (2001-2005) of GALILEO, the European satellite radionavigation programme. The Joint Undertaking will constitute the single management structure for the development phase and will mobilise public and private funds. “This is a new important step” said Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President of transport and energy. “Thanks to the joint undertaking, Europe has all the assets to make a success of GALILEO, with no doubt one of its greater technological realisation for the citizens

GALILEO is the European satellite radionavigation programme.(1) It is intended to enable Europe to develop new services in areas such as transport, agriculture and fisheries. This technology, which is likely to generate considerable economic benefits, is at present only applied in the United States (GPS system) and in Russia (GLONASS system), and both systems are funded and controlled by the military authorities. The GALILEO programme(2) will be managed and controlled by civilians. Four phases have been proposed: definition until 2000, development until 2005, deployment until 2007, followed by operation and application. The definition phase was completed at the end of 2000.(3)

The development phase of GALILEO is to be funded to the tune of Ä1.1 billion from public funds already earmarked and to be split equally between the budgets of the European Community and the European Space Agency, with an extra Ä200 million coming from the private sector. In March 2001 the representatives of the main industries concerned signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing themselves to a contribution to the development phase.

Setting up a Joint Undertaking,(4) as provided for in Article 171 of the EC Treaty, will provide a single management structure for the programme. It will be flexible, with legal personality, capable of concluding the contracts needed to set up GALILEO, and able to launch the research and development efforts required.

The founding members will be the European Community (represented by the Commission) and the European Space Agency. Once the Joint Undertaking has been set up, the European Investment Bank and private businesses subscribing to the initial capital of the Joint Undertaking can join them.

The Joint Undertaking will be responsible in particular for:

  • ensuring the smooth development of the programme and the continuation of the research and technological development efforts;
  • bringing together public and private sector funding;

  • preparing for the management of the subsequent phases of the programme (deployment, operation and application), including its transformation into another legal structure which could take the form of a European company.

During the development phase the Joint Undertaking will assign the carrying-out of research and technological development for the space segment and the ground segment associated with the system to the European Space Agency, and will make available to it the funds needed for this.

(1) Satellite radionavigation is a technology whereby a receiver picks up signals from a constellation of several satellites and can then determine very accurately the user’s position at any given moment.

(2)Set out in the Commission Communication of 10 February 1999, COM(1999)54 final.

(3) The Commission set out the results of the definition phase in a Communication dated 22 November 2001, COM(2000)750 final

(4) As requested by the March 2001 Stockholm European Council and the April 2001 Transport Council.