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Space observation and navigation promised EU cash

The European Commission intends to plough €7bn into Europe's Galileo GPS, and has proposed the creation of a €5.8bn funding scheme for a project to provide a global environment and security monitoring system
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Europe's Galileo GPS scheme stands to get €7bn to finish the system and to fund it until 2020, while a new funding mechanism for an Earth environment monitoring project has also been announced.

Galileo satellite attached to Soyuz

Europe's Galileo GPS scheme, which launched its first satellites in October, will get €7bn to fund it until 2020, the EU has announced. Photo credit: ESA/S Corvaja

The proposals, made public on Wednesday, will see €7bn (£6bn) of the European Union's Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020 earmarked for the satellite scheme. Meanwhile, a new outside-budget funding mechanism has been suggested to raise €5.8bn for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme.

"Both Galileo and [the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service] are strongly contributing to our industrial competitiveness and innovation in key sectors with great economic potential," the European Commission's vice president for industry and entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani, said in a statement. "The increase of our know-how in satellite navigation technology and service will significantly support European industry in these difficult times."

The increase of our know-how in satellite navigation technology and service will significantly support European industry in these difficult times.
– Antonio Tajani, European Commission

Regarding the GMES programme, he said: "In order to respond to ever-growing challenges at global level Europe needs a well co-ordinated and reliable Earth observation system of its own. The GMES programme will significantly boost space-related research in Europe and ultimately also support the economic recovery and address major challenges faced by European citizens nowadays."  

The European Parliament resolved to create the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020 on 8 June. The budget will be for research and innovation, maintaining cohesion within the EU, managing natural resources, providing funds for programmes around citizenship, funding Europe's external relations, and EU administration. The scope, size and specific areas of the budget are still being defined.

Galileo is the European Union's scheme to develop a GPS system to rival the US's Navstar, Russia's Glonass scheme and China's in-development Compass project. The first two Galileo satellites of a planned 30 were launched in October.

When Galileo becomes available in 2014 it will have a free service; a Public Regulated Service for guaranteed emergency service use; and a search-and-rescue system.

The 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework is in the process of being approved by all member states and the European Parliament. It requires unanimous approval to go through. The commission hopes it will be passed, but a spokesperson told ZDNet UK that "negotiations with unanimity are always difficult".

GMES scheme

The GMES scheme will use infromation from satellites and environmental sensors to provide data on climate change and security. Data from GMES will feed into the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) scheme to provide a harmonised, standardised bank of data to countries across the world.

Due to the "limits of the EU budget", the European Commission has proposed to fund the scheme by levying financial contributions from all 27 member states based on their gross national income, it said in a statement. This funding will be debated by the European Parliament, Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions.

The Commission expects GEMS will yield benefits worth twice the cost of investment through to 2020, and four times the costs through to 2030.

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