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Spanish firms want to respect Galileo accords

Madrid, Spain, 20 March 2007. Spanish firms simply want to respect accords surrounding the stalled Galileo satellite navigation project, a Spanish minister insisted Tuesday following claims by partners that Spain is dragging its feet on profitability concerns. “The two Spanish firms have merely asked that agreements and initial participation percentages be respected and we would like to see the other parties do the same,” Industry Minister Joan Clos told a news conference.

“Negotiations are currently ongoing and we hope they will unlock the situation and that Spain will remain” on board the 1.5-billion-euro (1.95 billion dollars) project meant to be in space in 2010 and operational from 2011.

Galileo is aimed at breaking Europe’s dependence on the US Global Positioning System (GPS). The project links Britain’s Inmarsat, the European EADS consortium, French firms Thales and Alcatel, Spain’s Hispasat and Aena and Italy’s Finmeccanica.

Last week, a British industry insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, accused Spain’s Hispasat of being behind the delays. “It is Hispasat of Spain which is causing the block, nobody else,” the source said.

“They are demanding work that has already been allocated to France, Germany and Britain. They are demanding a new ground station as well, and they are demanding more of the satellite building work and the operational value of Galileo.” A French source also pointed the finger at the Spanish, but neither Hispasat nor Aena commented on the accusations.