EU public funding for Galileo

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Contrary to popular belief, the issue bedevilling Galileo is not finding public funding, as there are many Member States willing to invest heavily, argues André Ferron in a paper for the think-tank Confrontations Europe. Nevertheless, Gallileo should not be ”nationalised”: it would be better if public funding were endorsed by the EU so that its own interests prevail, he claims.

Even though the European Commission acknowledged the failure of the Galileo project in May 2007 – with the private sector unable to reach an agreement that would have ensured the launch of the project in time, European public-private partnerships in general are not a failure. Rather, one specific public-private partnership failed, states the paper. 

André Ferron compares the Galileo project to a tollbridge corresponding to 30 satellites at a cost of 3 billion euros, and generating up to 450 billion euros in annual revenue by 2025. The financial structure of the bridge would initially be composed of public participation – limited to one third – with the private sector providing the rest. The failure came from the private sector, due to uncertainties regarding the revenues, observes the author. Finally, it is better to finance the bridge entirely with public funds as proposed by the Commission, he argues.

Galileo is indeed a costly bridge, built next to a free American bridge and future Chinese and Russian bridges, all funded by the Army, the author continues. The Council of 8 June confirmed Member States’ support for Galileo, but the future agreement must overcome this challenge and learn from the failures of the past, concludes the paper. 

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