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Brazil set for stake in Galileo

Galileo is scheduled to go live in 2008. Brazil may be about to buy into the European satellite navigation system, Galileo, despite misgivings from their neighbour to the North, the United States. The EUobserver has learnt that Brasilia is currently weighing up its participation in the 3.2 billion euro project which is due to be launched in 2008 – an announcement is expected soon.

Although no formal decision has yet been made, according to Brazilian diplomats the visit to Brazil by European Commissioner for External Relations, Chris Patten, may result in an announcement. Mr Patten will meet with the Brazilian president, foreign minister and defence minister this week as part of a three-country tour of South America.

Brazil’s backing of the project would come shortly after India and China stumped up 280 and 200 million euro respectively for a stake in the project. According to diplomats, Brazil’s contribution is not yet clear and will be dependent upon the degree of participation.

A Commission delegation is set to visit the country to explain the project to government departments and national industry at the end of February or beginning of March. Meanwhile, the EU and US look closer to agreement on the system after months of diplomatic wrangling.

The satellite system has caused controversy in Washington because it uses some of the same frequencies as the US military system, GPS. The US administration also initially claimed that the system would unnecessarily duplicate GPS, which currently holds a world monopoly. Backers of Galileo say that the system will provide a more accurate and reliable alternative to GPS. The 30 satellites which make up Galileo will be under civilian control and so will be able to offer uninterrupted service.

By: Andrew Beatty