MID TERM REVIEW OF GNSS PROGRAMMES, mini hearing 22 February 2010, European Parliament, Brussels


At the invitation of MEP Remek, rapporteur for the ITRE Committee of the "Mid term review of the European satellite navigation programmes: assessment, future challenges and financing perspectives" four experts participated in a mini hearing on 22 February 2010:

  • Alain Bénéteau, NEREUS President,
  • Etelka Barsi-Pataky (former MEP, rapporteur of the 2008 Galileo Regulation),
  • Jean-Jacques Tortora (EUROSPACE Secretary General)
  • Tomas Starek (Czech consultant, intelligent transport systems)


After a brief presentation of the network and introduction of what NEREUS sees as the main issues of GNSS (industry vs. SME's, most suitable application fields, need for mapping, etc..), Mr Bénéteau summarised the conclusions of the NEREUS Position Paper on GNSS: (1) need to waive the uncertainties which still remain at the local level, (2) need to have consistent pooling of (FP7, FEDER, etc..) funds, and (3) need to disseminate information on and knoweldge of the Galileo programme and EGNOS. He then quoted several examples of successful GNSS based pilot projects implemented in the NEREUS regions: Maritime Container Security (Bremen), SEA GATE (Rostock, Mecklenburg Vorpommern), SESTANTE (Veneto), medical rescue based on ASG/EUPOS (Mazovia), CLESTA airport management within the frame of VANS (Midi-Pyrénées, Aquitaine).

Ms Pataky indicated that the 2008 reprofiling of the GNSS programme had been successful. The progressing of the project required more information from the EC. The certification process is fine; one should ensure that certification in each Member State is fully available. EGNOS and Galileo are civilian programmes, with strong (military) competitors; it is important to speed up. Europe is becoming increasingly dependent on GNSS applications, and the commercial aspects should be identified without delay. The issue of IP rights should also be dealt with.

Mr Tortora recognised that many efforts had been made, but regretted that from the industry standpoint there was a lack of real project management on the part of the EC. The ESA could certainly provide support to the EC.

Mr Starek expects several regulations on applications in the field of transport by 2015. He said, focus should be placed on applications with high service requirements. It will be a long process to make users change from GPS to GNSS receivers, and campaigning should start immediately.

From the floor MEP Brezina concluded that a clear management structure needs to be defined. This is a most complex project and ideas for the organisational structure are welcome. MEP Niebler asked whether, considering the broad range of economic services Galileo should provide, should massive funding be injected in the system, and is it going to be viable in the long term. The question of PPP (public private partnerships) must be studied carefully. The experts were also asked when the Galileo system would be operational, and whether the project would become financially sustainable.

Paul Verhoef, Member of the European Commission; thanked speakers and assured them that SME's can easily be involved; for the spreading of information and knowledge, a new web portal is under construction (by the EC, GSA and ESA); the programme is progressing well: contracts are in place, with delivery dates, the necessary dowstream investments can be put into place. This is a completely new task for the European Commission, the programme is different from all others, both in nature and in size. Should the EC continue doing this, or should we find other means? The market of downstream applications has been evaluated at 70 billion per year. The regulatory reach of Galileo should be limited to the EU. What is a stable model for the future? Proposals will be made by the European Commission to the Parliament and the Council in the next 2-3 months.

MEP Remek concluded on a cheerful note that, all the projects he had participated in in his career had suffered from the same ailments: lack of financing, delays, and competitors on the global level, and he felt confident we would overcome them all.