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Decks cleared for Indian equity in Galileo project

The European Union (EU) council will formally issue a communique today (29th Nov 03) authorising the EU presidency to undertake negotiations and set modalities for India’s equity participation in about Euro 3.3 billion Galileo satellite navigation system project (FE, Oct 23). China has already committed Euro 200 million in the project.

“India’s equity participation in the project is likely to be more than Euro 200 million, but a final decision is likely to emerge in two months after finer details of partnership is negotiated. A formal announcement to this effect will be made at India-EU Business Summit on Saturday,” a senior EU official told FE. China has pledged Euro 200 million for Galileo under an accord signed at an EU-China summit in Beijing last month. The project, promoted by the EU and the European Space Agency, is being launched in competition with the US’ Global Positioning System (GPS). Galileo is scheduled to be operational by 2008.

Europe has pegged it as one of the strategic investments by any country for the future need of high-tech industries. It is stated to be a crucial investment for the world to have a choice independent of the US global-positioning system (GPS) monopoly.

Galileo is Europe’s satellite radio navigation programme. It will also facilitate the development of a new generation of universal services in areas such as transport, telecommunication, agriculture or fisheries. “To date, this technology, which promises to be highly profitable, is only mastered by the US GPS system and Russia’s GLONASS system, both of which are financed and controlled by the military authorities,” according to an EU source.