UK set to demand money Galileo back

UK set to demand money Galileo back

LONDON – Reuters
UK set to demand money Galileo back

Britain is set to demand the European Union repays up to 1 billion pounds ($1.34 billion) if the bloc continues to force British companies out of the Galileo satellite navigation system, a government official said.

The Brexit ministry, officially known as Department for Exiting the European Union, will publish a paper on Thursday raising the prospect of Britain recovering its investment in the project, the official said.

The row over the satellite project, Galileo, has become a flashpoint in the Brexit negotiations after moves to shut British businesses out of the project ahead of Britain’s exit from the EU in a year’s time.

Galileo is the EU rival to the global positioning system (GPS) developed and controlled by the United States and used by millions of consumer devices globally. It was commissioned in 2003 and is due for completion by 2020.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive, insists the Britain cannot be trusted with sensitive data that provides a secure back-up for the new satellite system after it leaves the bloc even though up it has been heavily involved in the satellite’s development until now.

The EU has said Britain will be able to continue to use Galileo’s open signal, but Britain’s military could be denied access to the encrypted version when the satellite becomes operational. The Brexit ministry declined to comment.

Britain has signaled its determination to press ahead with the development of its own satellite navigation system if the EU continues to insist that it will be barred from the secure elements of the project.

Experts said any rival British satellite navigation system could cost about 3 billion pounds.

The EU has also suggested that it may demand that key components are made on the continent after Brexit. In response, Britain is looking at preventing the transfer of technology and expertise relating to Galileo from Britain to the EU.

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