The future of the European Union’s Galileo satellite navigation network appears secure, with the EU Council of Ministers agreeing to raise an additional €2.4 billion ($3.6 billion) to support the system’s launch.
The council voted to divert €1.6 million ($2.4 billion) of unspent agricultural subsidies to meet the lion’s share of these additional costs for Galileo, originally a €5.9 billion ($4 billion) joint venture of the EU, European Space Agency and private investors.
The system now is slated to be operational in 2013 – five years later than its original launch date of 2008.
Galileo’s supporters say the network will provide navigational services that are more accurate than those available through the U.S. Global Positioning System.
“For (the) European industry, it means we will no longer be dependent on American, Russian or Chinese systems, as we will have a system of our own,” a European Parliament spokesman says.
Progress towards establishing the network has been stalled due to in-fighting among companies vying for Galileo construction and service contracts.
The deal is not expected to affect planned spending for any EU projects until 2013.