will have 30 satellites in its global network.
After three years
of talks, Europe and the United States finally struck a "win-win" deal on
sharing their high precision satellite navigation systems, resolving a
The European Union and the United States agreed
to avoid competition between their satellite navigation systems, in a deal
struck late Wednesday after years of tense negotiation.
have agreed upon the rules of working together," the chief EU negotiator
Heinz Hilbrecht told Germany's DPA news agency in Brussels on Thursday.
For his part, the US negotiator noted that the deal avoids
undermining the U.S. military, which was a main sticking point in the
"We have now agreed on
signal structures that will not degrade the navigation warfare capabilities
of U.S. and military forces," Ralph Braibanti, director of the U.S. State
Department's Office of Space and Advanced Technology, told Reuters.
"All in all we have achieved what was always our objective, a
win-win outcome. We still have some details to work out but the
major principles ... are now in place," Braibanti said.
Transport and Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio said the agreement
would allow consumers "to use in a complementary way both systems with the
same receiver: it creates indeed the world standard of radio-navigation by
In the future, private satellite navigation customers
-- car drivers, logistics firms, boaters and hikers, for example -- should
be able to use both the U.S. GPS (Global Positioning System) and Europe's
2008 start planned
billion ($4.5 billion) Galileo project has been in the works for several
years, but has been dogged by cost problems and tricky negotiations with
Now the network of 30 satellites is scheduled to
take effect in 2008, but simultaneous use of both systems will first be
possible with a new generation of GPS satellites, Braibanti clarified. This
will be sometime between 2010 and 2020.
Until now, the U.S.
had opposed the development of Galileo, arguing that it would interrupt
U.S. military signals. While Washington said Galileo would be unnecessary
and redundant, Europeans were keen to push on with the satellite system so
they would not be tied to using the Pentagon-controlled GPS.
French President Jacques Chirac once warned that Europe
risked becoming "vassals" if the system was not approved.
deal was finalized after the EU agreed to accept frequencies for signals it
had initially rejected, thus allaying U.S. military concerns. The Europeans
compromised on their open, general signal and the one for government
agencies and rescue services.
The Pentagon had been worried the
latter would interfere with its future M-code military
The EU's Hilbrecht told
Reuters the compromise would not hurt Galileo's performance.
For its part, the United States conceded that
commercial-use satellites need to be protected from interruptions and
disturbances. In the past, Washington had occasionally turned off its GPS
system citing military reasons.
Nevertheless, the agreement
still allows for both sides to shut down civil signals or disturb reception
in a war zone. Contractual and legal questions still need to be clarified
on both sides, but the aim is to have everything worked out so an agreement
can be signed at an EU-U.S. summit in June.
The United States was critical of the possibility that
China will work together with Europe on the Galileo project. In October,
China and the EU signed an agreement committing Beijing to a â,¬200 million
stake in Galileo. Russia and India have also shown interest in taking a
stake in the project. But the EU's cooperation deal with China
excludes technology transfers.
Earlier this month the
European Commission short-listed three groups as possible operators of the
Galileo system. Consortiums led by Eutelsat, Inmarsat/EADS/Thales and
Alcatel Space/Vinci will go into a final process of competitive negotiation
to win the contract, it said.