Galileo Put on Hold as EU Proposes Taking Over
European taxpayers will shell out €2.4 billion ($3.25 billion) up front if a European Commission proposal that it assume control of the Galileo navigation program is approved. The executive body of the European Union announced its intentions after a consortium of eight private aerospace and telecom companies missed the May 10 deadline to appoint a CEO and submit plans to operate and maintain the system as a single company. The original funding plan for Europe’s answer to GPS called for an initial €1 billion ($1.3 billion) payment and risk guarantee by the Commission, with the private consortium to provide the remaining operating costs. Michele Cercone, EU spokesman for the Galileo project, said the new plan would “protect” the taxpayer and “be [the] best value for [public] money.” He called the original plan an “unacceptable risk for public finances.” The launch date for the project has now been pushed back three years, to 2011 or 2012.