Sunday, November 25

Galileo, Europe needs it as it needs a hole in the head!

Now why is Angela Merkel saying that Europe needs this white elephant in the sky? Nobody asked me! But joking apart, you do realise, Ms. Merkel, that no private company is wanting to invest in this project? So this is another gigantic taxpayer funded public sector stupidity. If you want proof, see here. You are happy to pay for it provide the money is spent on German Companies. How stupid and frankly silly of you. I expected better but then again, sucking on the public purse tit is far too easy for you guys.

The German government on Friday welcomed concessions by the European Commission that could see the long-delayed European rival to the US Global Positioning System finally take off.

A spokesman for the transport ministry told journalists the concessions – a redrafting of the tender rules – had answered Berlin’s concerns that German companies might be excluded from working on the project.

“If a proposal like that comes through and the financing is secured, it would offer a decisive benefit for Germany's aerospace industry,” the spokesman told a regular government press conference.

Under the new tendering proposals, prepared by Jacques Barrot, the transport commissioner, the tenders for Galileo would be divided into six segments, with no one company acting as prime contractor on more than two segments.

Germany has led a group of countries blocking the use of unspent EU budget funds to finance the €3.4bn ($5bn, £2.4bn) project. Instead, it has suggested tapping the European Space Agency, which is not an EU institution, to top up the €1bn allocated to Galileo in the current EU budget.

Unspent EU funds are normally returned to member states and, like other net contributors such as the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands, Germany has been wary of creating a precedent in diverting the money. Berlin says this would cost it an extra €500m between 2008 and 2013.

However, Germany’s resistance on the funding issue is understood to be linked to concerns that the original tendering procedure would have resulted in Thales, the French satellite maker, dominating the entire project.

Analysts believe Berlin, as the EU budget’s largest net contributor, may yield on the financing issue given assurances that German contractors could participate. Ten days ago, Angela Merkel, the chancellor, said: “Europe needs this system.”

Under the commission’s updated tender rules, EADS Astrium, a subsidiary of the Franco-German EADS, has a bigger chance of securing one or two segments. The tendering rules dictate that prime contractors must sub-contract 40 per cent of their contract’s total volume.

A spokesman for Mr Barrot said: “The goal is to strike the right balance between open and transparent competition, and on the other hand the need to guarantee that the whole of the European industry can take part in the construction of Galileo.”

Although the Commission’s concessions offered a way out of the deadlock, a Berlin government official said the financing issue would have to be settled at the level of EU finance ministers.

The Ecofin group of the EU’s 27 finance ministers will meet on December 3 and 4, following a meeting of transport ministers next Thursday. However, a final agreement is not expected until the next summit of EU heads of states and governments on December 14.

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