In light of Brexit, the EU has made the decision to move the monitoring centre for the Galileo satellite navigation system from the UK to Spain. In a press release, the commission announced that in order to ensure the security of the satnav infrastructure, it must be moved to a country that’s part of the union. There were also legal concerns of part of Galileo being controlled by a non EU country in the future.
In a statement, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: “Europe’s satellite navigation system Galileo has already been delivering high quality services for over a year now. With today’s decision the Commission is taking the necessary operational steps to ensure business continuity and preserve the security of the Galileo system.”
“Today the committee of the member states’ representatives met and we can confirm that the committee voted in favour, by a large majority, of our commission proposal to relocate the centre to Spain,” a spokesperson for the European commission told reporters in Brussels.
The EU originally launched the Galileo program in 2016. Under the current plans, eventually it will involve 30 satellites of which 24 will be operational and six will be spares. It’s thought that the network will be completed by 2020 and the satellites will orbit the earth in order to provide the EU with an enhanced version of GPS. This has been an ongoing EU project for the last 20 years, as the EU aims to ensure it’s not dependent on services which are currently provided by the US.
The Galileo Security Monitoring Centre, which will be moved to Madrid, is an important part of the whole infrastructure and is used for security monitoring, implementation of ‘joint action’ instructions and providing security expertise and analysis. Unlike the service provided in the US, Galileo isn’t controlled by the military and can provide accurate location services on phones and satnavs.
The news of the move comes as a blow to the UK, already losing the London-based European Medicines Agency to Amsterdam and the European Banking Authority to Paris. However, the Spanish government has high hopes for the new centre which will support over 100 direct jobs once built.
Britain hopes to still participate in the Galileo project, but as the monitoring centre is used for security aspects, it’s essential that it remains within the EU. “Given the overriding importance for the Galileo programme of maintaining the business continuity of the backup site, it is necessary that the UK backup site … is transferred to a location in the EU27,” the EC spokesperson said.
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