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Galileo Project

Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total cost has been of the UK Government’s commitment to the Galileo project; what further commitments have been entered into since the original agreement with the EU; and if he will make a statement. (138204)

The European Union (EU) and member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) jointly fund the design and development programme for Galileo. To date the UK’s subscription to the ESA element of the programme has been €142 million. This includes an additional UK commitment made in August 2006 to meet cost increases to the development phase.

The EU’s contribution to the design and development programme is made from the EC budget and is estimated by the Commission to be €790 million. The UK’s contribution to the EC budget is around 17 per cent. of the total, before the UK receives any abatement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many communication satellites are envisaged for the Galileo project; what timescale is provided for its completion; and what changes in funding and organisation have resulted from the decision of the private sector partners not to honour future funding provisions. (138207)

The Galileo global constellation is expected to comprise 30 satellites.

The Commission has reported that there has been a breakdown in the public private partnership (PPP) contract negotiations. The immediate cause of the breakdown is an ongoing disagreement about industrial work-share between the partners in the bidding consortium.

The March Transport Council gave the bidding consortium a deadline of 10 May 2007 to resolve their differences and take the necessary measures to allow the resumption of effective negotiations. At the same time the Commission was requested to prepare an analysis of the consortium's response and to develop alternative options for taking forward the Galileo project. A more detailed discussion on these issues will follow at the June Transport Council, where it is likely that Ministers will be asked to decide whether to continue with the current negotiations, or to end them and to request the Commission to explore in further detail the alternative options for proceeding with the project. Governance of the project will also be considered.

The timetable for the programme, its funding, and its organisation are therefore subject to these decisions.