India committed to EU’s Galileo project


Brussels : India is committed to the success of the European Union's Satellite Navigation System Galileo in which India has agreed to invest, Indian diplomatic sources said here.

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"We are waiting for them to put their house in order and for us to move forward," the sources told Inepnext news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The 4-billion-euro Galileo project is in deep crisis due to disagreement within the private consortium of eight European companies working on the project.

The companies from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK failed to meet Thursday's deadline to come to an agreement on the terms of the contract.

European Commission spokesman Michele Cercone told reporters in Brussels that the consortium "has made some progress but even this is far from being sufficient".

"The consequence of this insufficient progress is that the public-private partnership, if maintained as it was envisaged at the start, would entail irretrievable delays for the Galileo project and would entail also unacceptable risks for public finances," he said.

EU transport commissioner Jacques Barrot is expected next week to propose scenarios to put Galileo back on the track.

The spokesman also confirmed reports that the European Commission, the EU's executive, is considering to propose public sector funding for the construction of Galileo that could cost an extra 3 billion euros.

Galileo, Europe's answer to the US global positioning system GPS, was originally to have launched 30 satellites by 2008. The project was delayed until 2011 and now nobody knows when it will be operational.

"Galileo is in a profound and serious crisis. We're in a dead-end street," said German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee on Wednesday. Germany holds the current EU Presidency.

Other non-EU countries which have agreed to invest in Galileo include China, Israel, the US, Ukraine, Morocco and South Korea.

India signed an agreement with the EU on participation in the Galileo programme during the sixth EU-India summit held in New Delhi in 2005.