UK threatens EU over access to Galileo satellite

By Greg Heffer, political reporter
The UK has confirmed it could pursue its own satellite navigation system and reopen negotiations over the ?39bn Brexit divorce bill if it is excluded from the EU's Galileo project.
The Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) has included the threats in a document setting out the government's view on Brussels' insistence the UK cannot remain a full member of the Galileo system.Originating in 1999, the Galileo project aims to establish a European rival to the US global positioning system (GPS) for satellite navigation.It is due for completion in 2020, when it will include 24 satellites and six spare satellites.The UK wants to remain part of the multi-billion pound project after Brexit, which it has already invested large sums of money into.But the EU has warned Britain cannot retain access to the highly encrypted part of Galileo, the public regulated service (PRS), to be used by military and governments.UK firms have also been excluded from future work in this area of the project.Chancellor Philip Hammond criticised the EU's "unhelpful" response, adding he was "very conscious of the ticking clock and the need to make significant progress" in negotiations by June.
UK threatens EU over access to Galileo satellite

Theresa May wants to remain part of the multi-billion pound project after Brexit
In a paper published on Thursday, the government warns ending close UK participation in the project "will be to the detriment of Europe's prosperity and security and could result in delays and additional costs to the programme".The document calculates that banning British firms from continuing their work in security-related areas of Galileo may result in the project taking up to three years longer to complete, as well as costing an extra €1bn (€876m).The government wants Galileo "to be a core component of a future UK-EU security partnership", with the paper suggesting the EU's stance risks breaching Brussels' commitment to "strong cooperation" on defence and security in Brexit negotiations.The UK is already developing receivers for military platforms that will incorporate PRS, like other EU nations, with the document stating this could therefore harm continued defence collaboration with European countries.The paper confirms the UK is looking at a domestic rival to the Galileo system, which is estimated to cost €5bn.It also threatens to unpick December's agreement on Britain's financial settlement with the EU, which has been calculated as between €35-39bn.
The document states: "Should the UK's future access be restricted, the UK's past contribution to the financing of space assets should be discussed."Amid the second phase of Brexit talks, the paper warns: "Negotiations on the future partnership should not be preempted or prejudiced."It adds: "The UK and the EU should therefore seek an urgent resolution to the exclusion, to keep open the possibility of future UK participation in Galileo."
UK threatens EU over access to Galileo satellite

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Asked on Thursday if the EU will repay the UK's €1bn investment in the Galileo system, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said: "Our position has always been very, very clear - crystal clear - on this."This issue is being discussed with our British partners, negotiations are ongoing."Several European countries are reported to be unhappy with the European Commission's stance on Galileo, with them urging a change of approach on the issue but not wanting to publicly risk EU unity in Brexit negotiations.A senior EU official dismissed British demands on Galileo as "quite a big ask".They highlighted how allowing the UK unrestricted access would mean a non-member state having the ability to turn off the signal for the whole bloc, with Britain asking for information not all EU member states have."The UK would like to transform Galileo from an EU programme to a joint EU-UK programme," the official said, adding legal requirements for participation in EU programmes needed to be respected.They said: "There is not an issue of general distrust but the EU is a rule-based system: member states trust each other through rules."
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The official denied the EU is shutting the UK out of Galileo completely, instead suggesting the bloc had made a decent offer to Britain on cooperation.They also warned Brussels doesn't negotiate under a "pretext of menace".
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