Written by Martin Svasek,
The current EU multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2014 to 2020 period allocates €7 071.73 million to deliver and to ensure the security and interoperability of two EU satellite navigation systems: the European geostationary navigation overlay service (EGNOS), and Galileo. The rules for both systems are set out in Regulation (EU) No 1285/2013 (the ‘GNSS Regulation’).
Galileo is a global navigation satellite system, which includes a constellation of 30 satellites and a global network of ground stations. It is a civil system under civil control, independent of other existing systems, but interoperable with the United States’ GPS and Russia’s Glonass.
The EGNOS system is a regional satellite navigation system infrastructure that monitors and corrects open signals emitted by existing global satellite navigation systems. Its architecture consists of ground stations and several transponders installed on geostationary satellites. EGNOS covers EU Member State territories geographically located in Europe (the Azores, the Canary Islands and Madeira are also included).
Galileo will offer its users an open service (free of charge) that provides information about positioning and synchronisation. It will contribute to systems aimed at users of safety-of-life applications and to the search and rescue support service of the COSPAS-SARSAT system, which detects and locates transmissions from emergency beacons carried by ships, aircraft, and individuals in order to alert rescue authorities whenever a distress situation occurs. Galileo will also provide a commercial service for the development of applications for professional or commercial use and a public regulated service restricted to government-authorised users. The latter two services will be based on improved performance and data with greater added value. Similarly, EGNOS is already offering, free of charge, an open service and provides positioning and synchronisation information in the area it covers. It also offers a service for the dissemination of commercial data and a safety-of-life service.
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The project programme’s three phases include definition, development and validation, and deployment. Initially, the Council pushed for large-scale financial support from private sources in the deployment phase, but this has never materialised. The Galileo programme was therefore re-profiled in 2007, with changes to the governance of the project and an increase in financial support. Today, the Galileo and EGNOS projects are fully financed by public funds from the EU budget, consequently becoming the first infrastructure to be owned by the Union. The European Commission is formally responsible for both GNSS programmes. ESA acts as design and procurement agent on its behalf, and the GNSS agency (GSA) ensures Galileo’s uptake and security.
Galileo is now in its deployment phase and is expected to reach full operational capacity by 31 December 2020. The ground infrastructure is growing, and now includes two control centres (in Germany and Italy); the European GNSS service centre in Spain; the Galileo security monitoring centre in France and the United Kingdom (to be moved to Spain as a consequence of the UK leaving the EU); the search and rescue/Galileo service in France; and the Galileo Reference Centre to be located in Netherlands.
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) published a special report on Galileo in 2009 and pointed out various problems that had led to the failure of the governance scheme for GNSS programmes in its initial format. During the current programming period, the Commission issues annual reports on the implementation of the Galileo and EGNOS programmes showing progress on implementation. The Commission report required by the GNSS Regulation as a mid-term review confirms that, as of end 2016, both programmes ‘are on track to respect the budget boundaries set by the GNSS Regulation for the period 2014-2020’.
Read this briefing on ‘How the EU budget is spent: Galileo and EGNOS‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.