Inside GNSS Media & Research

JUL-AUG 2018

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32 Inside GNSS J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8 Another snag: companies from non-EU states are not supposed to be allowed to help develop EU security-sensitive systems, so British companies won't be able to bid on lucrative contracts to com- plete and expand the PRS. Score one against Brexit here. Meanwhile, certain Brussels insiders have sug- gested that there is a concrete willingness to make exceptions that would keep a post-Brexit UK in the Galileo fold, at least for a time and to the extent that doing so will benefit the Galileo system. Consider this example: sometime around 2009, when Brexit was still just a gleam in Nigel Farage's eye, the EU determined that all Galileo system sites had necessarily to be located on EU ground. Cur- rently, two operational Galileo sensor stations are located on UK territories, in the Falklands and at Ascension Island. erefore, according to the rule, and accepting that the UK will in fact leave the Union, these two remote sites should be detached from the Galileo network, probably by March 2019. (e formerly UK-based Galileo Security Manage- ment Center [GSMC-2] has already been moved to Spain.) However, this would have an immediate and non-negligible effect on the redundancy and hence the availability of the Galileo ground segment, at a time when Galileo "enhanced services" are expect- ed soon to be announced. We now understand that these sites are not like- ly to be decommissioned as prescribed by rule, by March 2019. Does this mean the "Europe only" rule is to be changed? Or will this be a special excep- tion? It might be only a temporary exception; the sites may still be decommissioned at a later date. (Under the direction of the Commission and the GSA, we understand, ESA has started the procure- ment of a new remote site at Wallis Island, a French territory.) Again, there seems to be a willingness, if slight, to bend the rules, allowing a post-Brexit UK to stay onboard, at least for a time and on pragmatic grounds. What other pragmatic measures might possibly be accepted, once the Brexit dust settles? And Never the Twain Shall Meet On one level, all the political elbowing going on between British and EU negotiators seems far away from the actual life and functioning of the Galileo program, including the contribution that continues to be made by the UK. One premise underlying much of the current reporting about Brexit seems to be that there is a kind of vindictiveness driving the whole affair. Someone is trying to "get" someone, to "undo" someone, to stick a knife in and twist. In the high- ly charged political environment in which we live today, that approach certainly sells. We love having bad guys to hate and good guys whose own faults we can ignore. We are all, it would seem, fighting mad. What remains to be seen, once the power wield- ers are done, when the hands are shaken and the pictures taken, when the big-wigs leave the stage and Galileo is back in the hands of real people, is whether the UK's role remains workable or whether the relationship has been permanently sullied by those who saw it only as a means of scoring points. e final Brexit resolution will obviously entail impacts in terms of the UK's disposition vis-a-vis EU space programs, but until then the European Commission's official response, whenever the ques- tion is asked, is probably still the most accurate: "EU law, including all texts related to the Galileo Program, continues to apply in full to the UK and in the UK until it is no longer a member of the EU. Until then, the UK remains a member of the EU with all rights and obligations of a Member State." – from the EC Spokesperson's Service. Whatever happens, the end result will surely be a Galileo that continues to live and develop and a UK that continues, to some extent, to contribute and benefit. Sorry if this sounds like party pooping, but shouldn't it always be everyone's first and best reflex to step back, take a deep breath, think posi- tive thoughts, chill out and give peace a chance? It looks well and truly as if Britain is going to leave the EU. e final disposition is still well and truly unknown. rough it all, it will surely be in every- one's interest, not least Galileo's, if we can all just get along. BRUSSELS VIEW Graham Turnock, head of the UK Space Agency THERE SEEMS TO BE A WILLINGNESS, IF SLIGHT, TO BEND THE RULES, ALLOWING A POST-BREXIT UK TO STAY ONBOARD, AT LEAST FOR A TIME AND ON PRAGMATIC GROUNDS.

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