Inside GNSS Media & Research

JUL-AUG 2018

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28 Inside GNSS J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8 The UK seems well and truly on the path to leaving the European Union. The implications for the Galileo program are still unclear, and won't be known until Brexit negotiations are completed, at the earliest. I f we are to believe what we read, members of the European satellite navigation community should be quaking in their boots, as Galileo appears to have become a pawn in the wider EU-UK Brexit dispute, with various sources report- ing "fighting words" coming from either camp. Here are just a few of the troubling tidbits we've seen reported in various media in just the past few weeks: • Brussels will have no part in satisfying Britain's desperate pleas to remain involved in the Gali- leo satellite program aer Brexit. • e UK might demand £1.2 billion back from the EU if it cancels a deal to build Galileo satel- lites. • British PM eresa May has told the EU it must return UK investment if the Brits are shut out of the Galileo security system. • Theresa May has ordered work to begin on a British global navigation satellite system, to ensure the UK has access to essential position- ing services. • Officials close to the British PM blame France for leading the opposition to Britain's continued participation in Galileo. • e EU's hard-line position could backfire as Galileo relies on ground-based facilities in Brit- ish territories. And on and on, the back-and-forth, the tit-for- tat, predictions of disaster, foreshadowings of doom. Certainly there are real issues to be resolved. Indeed there are many, many serious issues that go way beyond space or security concerns to be resolved through the Brexit negotiations. But it might be wise to take some of the evil portents – especially those springing from "unnamed sourc- es" – with a grain of salt. Brexit itself, as we all k now, has been and remains a highly divisive and politicized issue, in Britain, across Europe and even in the United States, where pro- and anti-Brexit modes of think- ing seem to have aligned themselves on opposing sides of America's own political divide, with all the attendant vehemence, deception and bluster. Is anyone interested in what's actually happen- ing? Is anyone speaking about Brexit calmly and rationally, without some burning agenda eating away at their insides? And what does this have to do with the real Galileo we all know and love, owned and operated by the European Commission (EC), that sprawl- ing and unmovable behemoth of an institution that seems forever to sit just beyond the reach of momentary political hot air? Yada, Yada, Brexit, Yada e word Brexit does come up at European space policy-related events, oen pronounced in a deri- sory tone and invariable managing to elicit assort- ed smirks, grunts and giggles. After all, it's the EU. However, there tends to be little real content in these references, which instead tend towards broader moral remarks about things like building bridges not walls. ESA Director Jan Woerner (who does not work for the EU) has said on more than one occasion that he does not like Brexit, point blank, although he does not typically elaborate on exactly why. As for the role of the UK in space, on the other hand, he has been very clear. Speaking to reporters earlier this year in Paris, for example, he said, "e UK is part of ESA. ESA is not part of the EU. ere is no change in UK participation in ESA as a result of Brexit." He even suggested, though not in so many words, that Brexit could hold at least one benefit for ESA, the UK having announced its intention to increase its contribution to ESA aer the UK-EU split. European GNSS Agency (GSA) head Carlo des Dorides has generally downplayed the impact of Brexit, admitting publicly on at least one occa- Brexit and Galileo – Plenty of Rumblings, but Where's the Beef? PETER GUTIERREZ, Inside GNSS's European correspondent, is a senior reporter and editor based in Brussels, Belgium, who has written about Europe's GNSS programs for many years. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.S. degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. BRUSSELS VIEW

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