Galileo satellites need more cash

European GPS system needs a rethink if it is to launch on time in 2012, the European Commission has said

An ambitious European satellite network will need more public money if it is to get off the ground on time.

The European Commission said the roadmap for Galileo needs a rethink if the 2012 deadline for making the satellite system fully operational is to be met, adding that the "public-private partnership set up to implement Galileo needs to be reprofiled".

Europe needs a satellite radio navigation system as part of its essential infrastructure for applications such as border control, transport logistics, financial operations and the surveillance of critical energy and communications infrastructures, said Jacques Barrot, European Commission vice president responsible for transport.

Galileo is a constellation of 30 satellites in orbit at an altitude of 24,000km.

One likely application of the Galileo system is government road-pricing.

The Commission said the lack of progress in the negotiations on the concession contract — which provides for the deployment and management of the infrastructure by the private sector — is posing a serious threat to the completion of the project.

It is concerned the present roadmap — which involves bringing in the private sector at an early stage — won't get the project completed on time and may lead to considerable extra costs for the private sector. The Commission wants to change the plans to give the satellite radio navigation applications and services industries more certainty around when Galileo signals will actually become available.

According to a Reuters report, the Commission is looking for €2.4bn (£1.6bn) in public funds to complete the work.

The Commission said: "The Commission calls on the EU Member States to take the necessary decisions in terms of policy, finance and programme management to enable the project to be completed as soon as possible and to meet the needs of satellite navigation market users."