EU Finance Ministers Approve Galileo Funds

At its November 23 meeting, the European Union’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECONFIN) approved €940 million in supplementary funding during fiscal year 2008 to support a public procurement of the Galileo system.

At its November 23 meeting, the European Union’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECONFIN) approved €940 million in supplementary funding during fiscal year 2008 to support a public procurement of the Galileo system.

The action, in line wit a proposal submitted in September by the European Commission, came as the finance ministers deliberated a second reading of the EU’s 2008 preliminary draft budget (PDB) and following a conciliation meeting with a delegation from the European Parliament. Of the €940 million, €151 million had already been included in the PDB 2008, and the remainder of the allocation includes €50 million from transport-related research activities and €200 million that will be reprogrammed from EU agriculture funds not expected to be spent in 2007.

ECOFIN ministers also confirmed that the total estimated public support to achieve full operational capability of the GNSS project by 2013 will be €3.4 billion and noted that the figure should not be exceeded. The initiative to create a fully public process for completing the Galileo system came after the failure of a yearslong effort to form a public-private partnership that would have built and operated the system under a concession contract.

The parliament, the council and EC affirmed the principle of “the commitment to robust and fair competition in the programme to help ensure cost control, mitigation of risk from single supply, value for money and improved efficiency. All work packages for Galileo should be open to the maximum possible competition, in line with EU procurement principles, and to ensure procurement in space programmes are more widely open to new entrants and SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises].”

The proposal requires acceptance by the European Council heads of state meeting in December.

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