The EU's satellite navigation system is finally taking shape after representatives of member states and Parliament struck a deal on the project's institutional architecture.
The agreement on the amended proposal for a Regulation on the further implementation of Galileo was reached in an informal trilogue meeting between the Commission, Council and the Parliament on 3 April 2008.
It comes four months after member states came to an agreement on financing Galileo, as well as on the system's industrial tendering plan (EurActiv 26/11/07).
This new agreement, if confirmed by ministers, would open the door for quick progress on getting the navigation system off the ground. The three institutions namely agreed to retain the Galileo Surveillance Authority (GSA), which Parliament had asked to be dissolved as no private partners are taking part in the project any more. However, according to a council representative, several member states have been in favour of keeping it, saying new "useful roles" to ensure the implementation of Galileo have been identified for the authority.
GSA, which would stay under Commission control, would also be in charge of preparing the marketing of the system once it comes closer to the deployment phase.
Alongside the GSA, a new institutional structure would be created. Named Galileo Inter-Institutional Panel (GIP), it will consist of three representatives from both Council and the Parliament and one representative from the Commission. The Commission could eventually be represented by the Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot.
The panel would meet four times a year to decide on Galileo's annual programme, international relations, governance and attribution of contracts. It will also follow progress on the overall implementation of the project. As for multi-annual programming and security issues, the Parliament will not be involved.
The Transport Council is expected to reach a general approach on the proposal next week (7 April), after which the Parliament's Industry Committee will vote on it on 8 April. The plenary vote in Parliament is scheduled for this spring.