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N° 28–2000: ESA and the EC open joint office to accelerate work on Galileo satellite navigation programme

4 May 2000

Today, as the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission (EC) opened the Galileo Programme Office, Antonio Rodotà, ESA Director General, said "this marks a step forward in one of Europe's most promising new space programmes" and Loyola de Palacio, Commission Vice-President responsible for Energy and Transport, added "the office is the first permanent physical link between the two main European institutions which are pressing ahead with work on our new satellite-based navigation, positioning and precision timing system, Galileo."

On 4 May ESA Director General Antonio Rodotà and Commission Vice-President Loyola de Palacio opened the Galileo Programme Office at 24-26 Rue De Mot, in Brussels, Belgium. The office will coordinate studies under way and make preparations for decisions by the board directing the programme, provide technical support to the board and the industrial and scientific teams working on Galileo, and prepare the way for decisions on the transition to the implementation phase.

Less than a year ago, the EU and ESA decided to enter the race to develop the next-generation satellite-based navigation and precision timing system with a European-developed, state-of-the-art design that would set the industry standard for the 21st century. Galileo's new technology will revolutionise our transport systems, increasing safety and improving efficiency; this will make for better quality of life and less pollution in our cities. Galileo will also bring benefits in other aspects of everyday life, with precision farming raising yields, improved information for emergency services speeding up response times, and more reliable and accurate time signals underpinning our most vital computer and communications networks. It could also contribute largely to the improvement of maritime safety issues.

The definition phase of the Galileo programme is being run by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, with the European Space Agency as an equal partner in the joint management board and playing a full role in technical development. Industry has been pushing ahead with the various studies required for this phase, and user groups have been defining their potential needs, which will eventually determine the system performance requirements. The Galileo Programme Office will now serve as the central source of expertise and permanent point of contact for coordination between the various players and parts of the programme.

Inauguration of the Galileo Programme Office is also the first step towards an ESA/EC institutional framework for Galileo.

For further information, please contact :

Franco Bonacina, ESA

Head of Media Relations

Tel.: + 33(0)1.53.69.7155; Fax:+ 33(0)1.53.69.7690

For further information on ESA visit http://www.esa.int

Gilles Gantelet, European Commission

Tel. + 32 2 299 4896 - Fax. + 32 2 296 3038


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