The Commission has asked the member states to let it start negotiations on a co-operation agreement with Seoul over South Korea’s participation in Galileo.
South Korea, currently dependent on the US global positioning system (GPS), is keen to have Galileo as a back-up system to increase security in information infrastructure and to give domestic electronics manufacturers a wider market to operate in. The Commission intends to start negotiations with Asia’s fourth economic power right after Council’s approval.
Co-operation agreements on Galileo, the European rival to the US global positioning system (GPS), have already been signed with China and Israel and discussions are underway with Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine.
Galileo is expected to be operational by 2008. A decision on the operator who will run the system for 20 years will be taken by the end of June 2005.
The two remaining bidders are the iNavSat consortium (Thales, the French defence electronics company, Inmarsat of the UK and EADS, the Franco-German group) and the Eurely consortium (French Alcatel, Italian Finmeccanica, and Spain’s Aena and Hispasat).