Britain may make its own satellite navigation system after getting into a fight with the European Union’s Galileo project regarding efforts to restrict the country’s access to sensitive security information after Brexit.
The Galileo project is a 10 billion euro satellite program that is being developed by the European Union as a competitor to the US Global Positioning System, and has already caused major issues between Britain and the EU. As Britain took steps to leave the Union with the passing of Brexit, it’s clear that the government isn’t pleased with the repercussions of doing so – one of those being reduced access to security information, seeing as they’re no longer officially part of the EU. As part of that lack of information, Britain seems to be being locked out of the Galileo project – prompting them to take steps to make their own equivalent.
A spokeswoman for Britain’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy stated that the country wanted their membership in the Galileo project to continue, but that they would take action on their own if they were frozen out.
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“The UK’s preference is to remain in Galileo as part of a strong security partnership with Europe. If Galileo no longer meets our security requirements and UK industry cannot compete on a fair basis, it is logical to look at alternatives,” she said.
Since the passing of Brexit, the European Commission has already started to exclude Britain and its companies from sensitive work on the Galileo project ahead of the country’s exit from the EU – scheduled to occur in around a year’s time. In an email to Reuters, UK Business minister Greg Clark stated that “we have made it clear we do not accept the Commission’s position on Galileo, which could seriously damage mutually beneficial collaboration on security and defense matters.”
Britain is upset with the EU and their decision to block UK-based companies from being eligible to bid for upcoming contracts, and the idea of Brexit is obviously still a sore spot for all parties involved. Many are worried about Britain’s status as no longer part of the EU, and this blocking from the Galileo project hurts business and may also cause some defense concerns. While it’s understandable that Britain may be upset regarding this exclusion, the Galileo project is an EU project – allowing one to make the case that their exclusion might be warranted.
While the official exit of Britain from the European Union has yet to happen, the effects of their decision to leave have already been felt in many countries around the world. Many feel that Britain had a lot to gain from leaving the union, but there is a large portion of the country’s leadership that feels the decision may have been a mistake – with the Galileo project another example of how being on the outside can cause some sour feelings.
However, the argument can swing a little bit more in Britain’s favor when you consider the fact that the country alone had contributed about 15 percent of the work on the Galileo project – only to potentially be faced with years of delays and higher costs of the project that could stretch the cost of the infrastructure into the billions.
The Financial Times, who broke the story, also stated that Greg Clark was looking into legal advice in order to reclaim the 1.4 billion Euros that Britain had invested in the Galileo project since the project started back in 2003. If Britain ends up having all their time wasted by no longer being able to access this important infrastructure, the government clearly expects that it be repaid what it had put into the project.
All in all, it’s safe to say that tensions are high between Britain and the rest of the EU, and the Galileo project represents just a small part of the country struggling to find its feet as it starts to exist separately from the Union it called home for decades.