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EU rejects U.S. criticism of satellite project

The European Union Friday rejected fresh criticism from Washington of a proposed EU network of navigation satellites that would rival the U.S. military Global Position System.

The State Department said in a statement Thursday that the U.S. government saw no compelling need for Galileo, the European project, because GPS would meet the world’s needs for the foreseeable future.

Chief European Commission spokesman Jonathan Faull retorted that it was none of Washington’s business and “we don’t like monopolies, as you know.”

“On the compelling need, that is a matter for Europe, not for the United States, obviously. We are absolutely convinced that there is a real need for the Galileo system. It is not in our interest, we don’t believe it is in the wider interest either, to have only one system,” Faull told a briefing.

“There have been some encouraging developments in recent times…We are determined that the project should go ahead,” he added.

The U.S. criticism comes at a critical moment when Germany has just dropped its opposition to funding the ambitious EU project, raising the prospect that the other skeptics — Britain and the Netherlands — may also agree to pay their share and enable the next phase to go ahead.

EU transport ministers are due to discuss the issue again on March 26.

The State Department said that if the EU did decide to build Galileo, the United States wanted cooperation to ensure that the European system was interoperable with GPS.

Last December, the Pentagon (news – web sites) raised objections, warning that future enemies might use the proposed civilian European system in a war with the West.

Faull said the EU was open to discussion with Washington on how to make Galileo interoperable with GPS.