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[] Euro-GPS GALILEO so gut wie gestorben,

...wenn sich nicht im März der Rat der Verkehrsminister endgültig dafür

Europe GPS Plan Shelved 
By Steve Kettmann 

2:00 a.m. Jan. 17, 2002 PST 

BERLIN -- Exasperated European officials say U.S. pressure appears to
have torpedoed a $3 billion project to build a European version of the
U.S. global positioning system, which uses signals from orbiting
satellites to track geographical position within 36 meters. 

The proposed system, dubbed Galileo, was intended to give Europeans more
autonomy, both industrially and militarily. That's no small concern,
since the United States can selectively block access to GPS, as it has
during the military campaign in Afghanistan. 

Also, European plans to develop a rapid-reaction military force will
become much more credible with their own GPS in military operations. 

But U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz sent a letter to all
15 European Union defense ministers last month, urging them to influence
their governments not to proceed with Galileo. That deferred any
decision on the project, and now looks to have brought its momentum to a

"Galileo is almost dead," Gilles Gantelet, spokesman for Loyola de
Palacio, the European commissioner in charge of the project, said. 

"We expect that we could have the decision by March at the latest. If
there is no decision in March, then we could consider Galileo ... dead." 

Wolfowitz's rationale, according to Gantelet and published reports, was
that the United States Defense Department, which funds and operates GPS,
plans to upgrade the system's capabilities and use more frequencies for
signals. The European system, Wolfowitz reportedly cautioned, could
interfere with that. 

But Gantelet questions that claim. He said the Europeans have
communicated to the U.S. government plans to avoid any technical
problems with operating two systems. 

"We consider all the technical aspects to have already been dealt with
or easy to overcome," he said. "We think it's mainly now a political

But it's also possible that U.S. pressure helps give European
governments cover so they can shy away from such an expensive project.
That was the view Turkey's ambassador to NATO expressed on Monday. 

"I know there are some problems with (Galileo)," said Onur íymen, whose
country is a member of NATO, but not the EU. "We can perhaps not expect
to have everything at once." 

"The important thing is to have an awareness that if the European Union
wants to have its contributions to European defense, they have to spend
money for that. I can't say that the Europeans are reluctant in
improving their militaries, but whether their budgets are enough for
that, it's an open question." 

The politics of the project -- and the bitterness likely to be generated
by its demise -- are not without their sense of drama. 

President Jacques Chirac of France was quoted in the International
Herald Tribune as saying that if Europe did not pursue Galileo and other
space projects, the failure "would lead inevitably to a vassal status,
first scientific and technical and then industrial and economic." 

Timing is a major issue for Galileo. The Europeans believe the project
can earn significantly more than it will cost, but only if Galileo moves
forward in the near term. They say it must be up and running by 2008 to
turn a profit. 

"One advantage of Galileo is that it will be better than the current GPS
system, and it will arrive on the market before the new generation of
American system," said Gantelet. "But if the delay is too long, there
will be no interest from consumers in using it." 

Most frustrating for the Europeans is that, in essence, the Americans
don't trust them with so powerful a tool. The Europeans argue that it
makes sense for the Western community to have more than one system, just
in case. 

"It's important for Europe to develop its system, and important for all
the Western countries to develop another system that is not a competitor
to GPS, but could be alongside it," said Gantelet. "With tough times
that are starting, you don't know that there will be no terrorist
attacks against the GPS. It's more reliable to
have two systems." 

That argument has not, so far, swayed the thinking at the Pentagon.

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