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Galileo will be interoperable with GPS, its American competitor. In practice, this means that it will be possible to use a GPS receiver to capture Galileo's civil signals for positioning by satellite - and vice versa. This has been the case since 2004, when the EU and the United States reached a cohabitation agreement between the two systems. This agreement was negotiated over many years and marked a pacification' in EU-US relations on the matter. Because, until then, the Americans had significantly increased their offensives against Galileo, agitated by the calling into question of their monopoly in terms of satellite navigation and by the military security issues associated with overlapping frequencies.

This interoperability techically materialised on 26 July 2007, when the two parties announced that they had reached an agreement on a common signal (called MBOC) for the civil use of both systems. The MBOC signal will be used on the new generation of GPS currently in preparation and on the Galileo open service, accessible to all users free of charge. It will allow very powerful signals to be received, even in difficult surroundings, underlined the two parties.

Where will the surveillance authority HQ be?

This is impossible to predict for the moment. Eleven cities have applied to host this authority: Athens, Barcelona, Brussels, Cardiff, Valletta, Ljubljana, Munich, Noordwijk, Prague, Rome and Strasbourg. Three of the applicants are in the EU's new member states, which consider that they should be entitled to host this authority's headquarters. In their favour is a decision by the European Council of 2003, which indicates that priority should be given to new member states regarding decisions on setting-up new agencies. As for their detractors', they note that the surveillance authority is not an agency.

Influence struggles are thus continuing in the decision to host an authority, whose role was questioned when the Commission abandoned its concession scheme with the private sector for the deployment phase of Galileo. Initially, MEPs had proposed doing away with it altogether. Because, in the old scheme, its main mission was to be the conceding authority with regard to the private concessionaires initially intended to carry through the deployment phase. Its role therefore had to be adapted and the surveillance authority will see itself allocated tasks associated with the programme's safety and the marketing of the system, as well as"other tasks that the Commission could entrust to it" (promotion of applications, certification control of the system's components, etc).

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Publication:European Report
Date:Jun 24, 2008

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