Published On: Tue, Sep 24th, 2019

Brexit news: ESA boss gives damning response to Galileo rival after Brexit | Science | News

Jan Woerner has also described British plans to develop a rival to Galileo, the EU’s satellite navigation which the UK will be excluded from after Brexit – as a “bad idea”. Mr Woerner, who has been ESA’s director-general since 2014, was speaking on the sidelines of the UK Space Conference 2019, being held at the International Conference Centre Wales in Newport this week.  With the Supreme Court’s decision to declare Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament unlawful, uncertainty over the future was dominating the national conversation, and Mr Woerner admitted: “I don’t like Brexit, to be very blunt.

“I don’t like it, because this is artificial, what we are doing.

“There might be some effects, for instance, through the Galileo programme, which is implemented through ESA, or the Copernicus programme.

“We will do our utmost to reduce all the impact as much as we can from our point of view.”

Britain is currently in the midst of a £92million feasibility study to investigate the possibility of building a rival to Galileo, which more than a £1billion in UK taxpayers’ money is estimated to have been invested in.

Jan Woerner

Jan Woerner has admitted he “does not like” Brexit (Image: Daily Express/Ciaran McGrath)

However, Mr Woerner said: “I should be more diplomatic but I think this is not a good idea.

“If it is a strategic, tactical movement I can accept it but we should do our very best to ensure that Galileo is a European Satellite Navigation System available for the whole club and that means including the of course the UK.

“We should use the next weeks, months and years if Brexit is confirmed to make sure the UK can be a part of it.

“ESA has also Switzerland and Norway as member states. Both are not members of the European Union, so we know how to handle it.

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Galileo is a satellite aimed at rivalling the USA’s global positioning system (Image: GETTY)

“So it is therefore my strong hope is that we can minimise the impact and that the UK and Brussels will find an agreement.”

Mr Woerner stressed: “We have a very long-lasting relationship because the United Kingdom is one of our owners.

“I say that very clearly – you could call it in modern language shareholders, but i prefer the older version.

“You are owning the European Space Agency.

The UK space sector in numbers

The UK space sector in numbers (Image: Daily Express)

“The European Space Agency is an independent, inter-governmental organisation so it is not affected by Brexit directly and therefore it is a pleasure and an honour for us to here at the conference, to be present to show what we believe, ‘United Europe in Space’.

“This is not United European Union in Space, it is United Europe in Space.

“So therefore Europe is for me not ending at the artificial borders of countries but with the continent.

“We can discuss about how far it goes to the east but the whole western part from Finland to Portugal, from Estonia to Spain, this is all covered, and therefore we are very happy to be here.

“The first time, it was more national activity, now it’s becoming more and more European or international.

“We are very happy that we are invited to participate.”

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