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EU expects India to raise equity in Galileo project

The 25-member European Union is hard-selling the 3.3-billion euro ambitious Galileo global satellite navigation system, claimed to be much superior to the American GPS.

With China having agreed to pitch in with 200 million euros towards Galileo’s development and Israel chipping in with another 70-80 million euros, it is trying to woo India to take an early decision on its formal equity contribution in this project.

India which has kept it’s card close to it’s chest so far, however, is not happy with certain conditionalities of the Galileo project. The Galileo system, scheduled to become fully operational by 2008, aims to break the monopoly of the US GPS, which India currently uses.

“We have some problems with access to Galileo’s PRS (public regulated service) channel and how the entire system will be run during a crisis or conflict situation,” an Indian official said.

But EU officials are quite hopeful the agreement – with India picking up a 300 million euro stake in the Galileo project – will be inked in “the second half of this year”. “We have had several meetings with the Indian government and ISRO officials” said one.

“The American GPS was developed for military use and is controlled by the Pentagon. Galileo in turn, is totally civilian. We don’t want a US monopoly in the field” said an EU scientist.

This fits in with the Indo-EU vision of promoting “effective multiculturalism” in the world. The new ‘strategy paper’ being finalized by EU for India, in fact, seeks to build strategic ties between the two beyond the largely economic so far.