Published On: Thu, Aug 29th, 2019

Brexit blunder: How Galileo flaw could leave EU defenceless – and begging for UK help | UK | News

Yesterday, Boris Johnson stunned Jeremy Corbyn and other opposition leaders after announcing plans to prorogue Parliament before the Queen’s Speech on October 14. The longest suspension in more than 40 years leaves opposition parties and Tory rebels with as little as four days to push through legislation when Parliament returns that will force Mr Johnson to seek an extension to Article 50. As Remain MPs appear increasingly desperate in their attempts to thwart no deal, the UK faces a likely exit from the EU’s Galileo project – and it could be for the better.

Galileo is Europe’s Global Navigation Satellite System, built to rival the US’s GPS system that will be used for military defence and critical national infrastructure purposes.

It will not only support mobile phones and SatNavs but also provide vital location information for the military and businesses.

Among the most crucial parts of the system is the Public Regulated Service (PRS), an encrypted navigation service used by government agencies, the armed forces and emergency services. 

The EU insists access to this will only be for EU members when it launches in 2020.

However, a Cold War arrangement between the “Five Eyes” allows the UK to work with the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand to build its own Global Navigational System.

This would mean any new system must be compatible with GPS, so the two networks can cover for each other if one suffers a malfunction.

The Galileo project began in 1999, with the EU aiming to create a network of 30 satellites orbiting the Earth that would ensure its members were not reliant on US, Russian and Chinese systems. 

One of its aims is to provide an indigenous alternative high-precision positioning system upon which European nations can rely, independently from GPS.

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In December 2018, Philip Hammond signed off funding amounting to as much as £100million to “map out” plans for a post-Brexit UK satellite system.

The UK Space Agency is currently leading work, backed by the Ministry of Defence, on a planned British system to provide both open and encrypted signals with the same range of commercial and security applications as GPS and Galileo.

More than 50 UK companies have expressed interest in the project and a series of contracts are being tendered.

British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies around the globe would be used to provide the necessary ground-based infrastructure to deliver worldwide coverage.

Britain has also said it wants the EU to repay more than £1billion it has contributed to the project, but it is unclear whether the UK will get the money back.

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