Europe's planned satellite system needs more cash

European Commission says $3.24 billion in public funds will be needed to make the network operational by 2012.

Galileo, an ambitious European satellite network, will need more public money if it is to get off the ground on time, according to the European Commission.

The Commission said the road map for Galileo needs revision if the 2012 deadline for making the satellite system fully operational is to be met. The Commission added 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, the Commission's vice president responsible for transport.

Galileo is a constellation of 30 satellites in orbit at an altitude of 15,000 miles. It is designed to offer greater accuracy than the Global Positioning System, which is deployed by the U.S. military.

The European 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.

The Commission is concerned that the present road map--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, and 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 European Commission is looking for $3.24 billion in public funds to complete the work.

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

Steve Ranger of reported from London.

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