In late November 2007, the Council voted in support of financing Galileo entirely from Community funds (some €3.4 billion) and backed a Commission proposal on the industrial tendering process for the project (see EURACTIV 30/11/2007). Some of the key principles of the industrial plan, which aims to "guarantee competition and transparency" and make sure that all European aerospace industries can participate in the project, are:
- Identifying a sufficient number of segments subject to a tendering process to guarantee enough competition [to avoid domination by one company]: at least six different segments have been identified;
- rules on 'non-accumulation': in the tendering process, the prime contractor can only be so in two of the segments, not more;
- sub-contracting: the prime contractor would have to subcontract a large share (around 40%) to other companies that are not winners of the bid.
The path for the EU's satellite navigation system to become operational by 2013 was finally cleared after member states agreed in April 2008 on the Galileo Implementation Regulation outlining a timetable and industrial tendering plan as well as a clear division of roles and responsibilities between the three EU institutions (see EURACTIV 08/08/2008).
According to the compromise, the Galileo programme development and deployment phase comprising the construction and launch of the first satellites and the establishment of the first ground-based infrastructure is to begin in 2008 and end in 2013. The exploitation phase - management, maintenance, standardisation and marketing of the system - should begin at the latest in 2013 when the system is expected to become operational.
The deployment phase will be financed entirely by Community funds, but public-private partnerships or other forms of contract could be formed with the private sector after 2013.
Galileo's applications and business opportunities
Galileo will provide information concerning the positioning of users in many sectors such as transport (vehicle location, route searching, speed control, guidance systems, etc.), social services (e.g. aid for the disabled or elderly), the justice system and customs services (location of suspects, border controls), public works (geographical information systems), search and rescue systems or leisure (direction finding at sea or in the mountains, etc.).
In the transport field, it is expected to considerably improve air traffic control, the management of ship and lorry fleets, road and rail traffic monitoring, the mobilisation of emergency services and the tracking of goods carried by multimodal transport.
Galileo and its spin-offs are expected to create a huge market for equipment and services for the private sector. However, it is not exactly clear how this will be done as the American GPS is already available free of charge, whereas the customers are expected to be ready to pay for a Galileo signal.
Civilian/military use of Galileo
For the present, Galileo will not be used for military purposes but it could have ramifications for Europe's security and defence institutions, enabling users to locate individual land mines or direct missiles.
Galileo will offer several service levels, from open access to restricted access of various levels:
- An open, free basic service, mainly involving applications for the general public and services of general interest. This service is comparable to that provided by civilian GPS, which is cost-free for these applications, but with improved quality and reliability;
- a commercial service facilitating the development of professional applications;
- a "vital" service (Safety of Life Service) of a very high quality and integrity for safety-critical applications, such as aviation and shipping;
- a search and rescue service that will greatly improve existing relief and rescue services; and;
- a public-regulated service (PRS), encrypted and resistant to jamming and interference, reserved principally for the public authorities responsible for civil protection, national security and law enforcement which demand a high level of continuity. It could prove to be an important tool in improving the instruments used by the European Union to combat illegal exports and illegal immigration.
The services offered by Galileo will cover the whole planet, including areas at a geographical disadvantage and the outermost regions of the European Union.
Galileo co-operation with the American GPS and third countries
Several countries around the world have already signed a co-operation agreement with the Galileo programme. The EU and the United States have also signed (June 2004) an agreement to ensure compatibility between their rival satellite positioning systems. The deal means the two sides will agree common operating standards for the American Global Positioning System (GPS) and the European Galileo project.
It determines how Galileo's frequencies should be structured, which will allow signals to be jammed in war zones if necessary. The agreement will create a world standard for signals, which means that users will be able to obtain signals from both systems.
In July 2007 the EU and the US agreed on the use of a common GPS-Galileo signal after a joint EU-US compatibility and interoperability working group overcame technical challenges to design an interoperable GPS-Galileo civil signal.