More opposition in Europe to Galileo

Published 14 November 2007

Growing opposition in Europe to the Galileo Project, Europe’s response to the U.S. GPS network; behind schedule and over budget, many ask whether the benefits of the system would outweigh its costs

Europe’s attempts to build a rival to America’s GPS network have been attacked by the British politicians behind a recent inquiry. The Galileo project may well turn into a £10 billion white elephant, according to Gwyneth Dunwoody, chairwoman of the Transport Select Committee. In fact, Dunwoody used more colorful language, telling BBC Radio 4, “This is not one pig flying in orbit, this is a herd of pigs with gold trotters, platinum tails and diamond eyes.” The committee’s new report on Galileo says there is not enough information available to determine whether the benefits outweigh the costs. Any decision must be delayed until this becomes clear, they say. Earlier this year the European Union doubled the subsidy needed from member states for the project to €4.5 billion. Initially a strong reason for Galileo was that the U.S. military could turn off or degrade the GPS signal. Earlier this year, however, the United States said newer GPS satellites would not be down-gradable. The program is already behind schedule and the European Commission is now proposing to divert funds from its agriculture budget to fund Galileo. Dunwoody would prefer money be spent on better roads and railways.