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EU, Switzerland to sign agreement on Galileo programme

Switzerland: Switzerland will be formally integrated into the EU’s global satellite navigation programmes Galileo and EGNOS. On August 4, the European Commission presented a proposal for a decision for the EU and Switzerland to sign a cooperation agreement. Until now, Switzerland has taken part in the Galileo adventure as a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) and by participating informally in the governance structures of the programme. The cooperation agreement will formalise things.

The option of an association of Switzerland to the programme through a specific international cooperation body (Galileo International Board) was at one point considered, rather than a cooperation agreement. It would have gathered all the third countries that are interested in the Galileo programme.

The idea was debated with Switzerland and other third countries, but this option was abandoned in the end. This was namely because Switzerland felt it was unfair for it to have the same status as non-European third-countries that are much less close to the EU and do not financially contribute to the programme.

It is certainly true that Switzerland has vastly contributed to Galileo, both technically and financially. Notably, a Swiss company (SpectraTime) provided the atomic clocks the satellites are fitted with. Switzerland has contributed EUR 60 million for 2008-2013 to Galileo, and its contribution will reach EUR 20 million for 2014. After that, Switzerland’s participation will be calculated on the basis of a method defined in the cooperation agreement.

Source: Europolitics