GALILEO, Europe's global satellite navigation system, leapt an important hurdle on 5 April 2001 when European Union Transport Ministers agreed to make available Euro 100 million for the start of the programme. The ministers will decide on the release of a further Euro 450 million at their meeting next December, when they will also approve the setting up of an entity to manage the programme. Moreover, they agreed to take the formal decision on the deployment of the full constellation by the end of 2003.
In February 2001, ESA's Navigation Programme Board approved the funding for the initial design study and additional ESA funds are to be released shortly.
The Transport Ministers' decision provides the framework for the long-term implementation of the two European satellite navigation initiatives, GALILEO and EGNOS, and identifies issues that remain to be resolved during 2001. These include:
The setting up of effective political control of GALILEO and EGNOS on an appropriate legal basis. In the meantime, a temporary structure will be implemented to manage the programme until the new entity is in place, with the European Commission being in charge of the general co-ordination of the programme and the European Space Agency guaranteeing the technical set-up.
Agreement on the GALILEO mission requirements including optimised inter-operability with existing Global Navigation Satellite Systems by June 2001.
To launch as soon as possible a tendering process giving a perspective of all the phases of the project in order to develop the longer term involvement of the private sector. The results of this tendering process shall be available early in November 2001.
- The integration of EGNOS in close co-operation with the EGNOS Operators Infrastructure Group in accordance with a transition programme that will be completed around 2015.
- The continuation of the contacts with non-member states of the European Union that are interested in contributing to the development of GALILEO.