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EU launches consultations on use of Galileo satellite system

Brussels, Belgium, 9 December 2006 – The European Union launched a four-month consultation on December 8 on the possible uses of Galileo — the satellite navigation project which the EU is developing as a rival to the U.S. GPS system at a cost of €3.6 billion (US$4.8 billion). The European system is due to be operational by 2011 and is expected to be used in a variety of applications ranging from traffic navigation to weather tracking and security of financial transactions.

In its public consultation, the EU hopes private and state players will explore the full range of possible uses and debate the role of authorities in regulating Galileo, including meeting concerns over privacy.

“Galileo … presents a unique opportunity for new applications, economic growth and job creation in the European Union,” said EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot, who launched the consultation.

The Galileo project will comprise some 30 satellites and aims to end Europe’s reliance on the U.S. Global Positioning System. The EU says its system will more accurately detect the positioning of users. GPS is ultimately controlled by the U.S. military, while Galileo will be civilian-run.

Next year, the EU is expected to put a second experimental satellite into orbit in preparation for the launch of Galileo. The EU estimates the global satellite navigation market will be worth €400 billion by 2025.