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[infowar.de] GPS II
und hier noch die im vorhergehenden posting zitierte quelle aus der ft vom =
COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Lost in space: Europe's ambitions to launch a satellite=
navigation system to compete with the US's monopoly risk being thwarted by=
a dispute over funding, write Clive Cookson and Daniel Dombey:=20
Financial Times; Dec 22, 2001
By CLIVE COOKSON and DANIEL DOMBEY
Europeans who fear technological domination by the US are rallying to a new=
cause - a Euros 3.6bn (Pounds 2.23bn) satellite navigation system called G=
alileo, which would provide an alternative to the US military's Global Posi=
This week Jacques Chirac, president of France, singled out Galileo as a pri=
me example of the investment Europe must make to avoid falling hopelessly b=
ehind the US. "The US spends six times more public money on the space secto=
r than Europe," he said. "Failure to react would inevitably lead to our cou=
ntries becoming first scientific and technological vassals, then industrial=
and economic vassals."
European transport ministers failed this month to give final approval to Ga=
lileo, which would be the European Union's first big venture into space. Th=
e enthusiasts - France, Italy and Spain - could not convince the doubters -=
Britain, Germany and the Netherlands - that the rather convoluted public/p=
rivate funding mechanism proposed for the project would be practicable.
At present the GPS, a constellation of 28 spacecraft controlled by the US d=
efence department, enjoys a mono-poly over satellite navigation. It enables=
anyone in the world with a GPS terminal to work out his or her position to=
within about 100 metres, depending on local circumstances. GPS is used not=
only for navigation on land, sea and air but also for engineering projects=
. In addition, the satellites transmit accurate time signals that help to s=
ynchronise the world's mobile phone networks and internet traffic.
Last year the US stopped deliberately downgrading the performance of GPS fo=
r civilian users - a move interpreted by some Europeans as an attempt to he=
ad off the creation of a competing system. However, Galileo supporters say =
Europe should not depend on the goodwill of the Pentagon for a key part of =
its technical infrastructure. For users, the addition of 30 Galileo satelli=
tes to GPS will produce a superior system, accurate to within 10 metres, wi=
th much better coverage in difficult terrain such as "urban canyons" and mo=
Leaked letters from US officials objecting to Galileo are circulating in Br=
ussels, adding an air of trans-atlantic intrigue to the lobbying that alway=
s surrounds a big new project. European Commission officials have made much=
of a letter sent on December 4 by Paul Wolfowitz, the hawkish number two a=
t the Pentagon, to European defence ministers in which he apparently warns =
that an "enemy" could use Galileo.
A letter from the US State Department is more technical in tone, warning of=
"very serious concerns" about the possibility of Galileo carrying an encry=
pted access service for use by police and emergency "with many of the earma=
rks (sic) of a military service". It said there was a danger of interferenc=
e between GPS and Galileo signals.
Some people on the Continent are linking the Blair government's strong supp=
ort for the Bush administration with its lack of enthusiasm for Galileo. Co=
uld the lack of progress be another sign of the EU's supine attitude toward=
s the solitary superpower? Or are Brussels and Paris trying to brush off ac=
counting inconsistencies by citing great strategic issues?
Loyola de Palacio, the EU transport commissioner, seems to have made up her=
mind. "If anyone had any doubts, things are now very clear," she said this=
week. "The problem with Galileo is not an economic or financial one. It is=
clearly a political problem."
Ms de Palacio has waxed lyrical about the commercial attractiveness of the =
project, which aims to create a market of Euros 9bn a year and about 140,00=
0 jobs. Citing an independent report on Galileo by consultants PwC, she say=
s the cost-benefit ratio for the project is twice as high as that of other =
publicly funded infrastructure projects.
But the PwC report, released last month, also contained unwelcome news abou=
t rising costs. It said that the public sector would have to provide Euros =
2.5bn in present-day prices for Galileo to work and increased its estimate =
of the cost from last year's figure of Euros 3.25bn to the current Euros 3.=
At a finance ministers' meeting this month, Britain's Gordon Brown expresse=
d concern both about the cost and the ways PwC had suggested of financing i=
t, such as a special levy on chip sets for Galileo equipment. The British t=
hink that chip prices are falling so fast such a tax will be uneconomic. Fi=
ve other finance ministers expressed similar concerns.
A subsequent transport ministers' meeting made no breakthrough and even the=
EU leaders' Laeken summit last weekend yielded only a commitment to agree =
the financing by March - when an offer of matching European Space Agency fu=
Ms de Palacio, who had set December as a deadline for agreement, says she w=
ill wait longer to see if the EU as a whole can commit itself to Galileo. I=
f not, she will encourage Galileo supporters among the member states to for=
ge ahead on their own.
Europe's space companies have set up a joint venture, Galileo Industries, t=
o manage the programme. They are naturally enthusiastic about challenging t=
Evert Dudok, head of Astrium's navigation business, says: "The GPS monopoly=
has been a huge economic asset for the US and for American companies. But =
I think they are starting to realise that Galileo is unlikely to be stopped=
and they are seeing advantages in the enlarged market it offers."
Independent analysts are also enthusiastic.
"It seems ridiculous that firmly agreed funding arrangements for Galileo, w=
hich began development back in 1999, have not already been decided," says E=
leth Smith, a Butler Group analyst. "It would seem equally ridiculous for s=
uch a scheme to be abandoned when it has already undergone at least a quart=
er of its development."
Ms de Palacio argues that if the leaders of yesterday had been similarly wa=
ry of spending, Europe would not have the Airbus or the Ariane space progra=
mme today. Both projects sucked up vast sums of money - and kept less than =
pellucid accounts. But even the British concede that they were worth doing.=
Perhaps the problem with Galileo is that it is a strategic project masquer=
ading as a commercial one.
Copyright: The Financial Times Limited 1995-1998
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