Industry committee MEPs approved new legislation on Tuesday to ensure that Europe's two satellite navigation systems - Galileo, the European GPS system, and the EGNOS programmes for improving GPS signal quality - can be funded and operated from 2014 to 2020.
The Commission has earmarked €7.9 billion to complete the EU's satellite navigation infrastructure over the seven-year period. MEPs call in amendments to the draft legislation for more of the new services to be offered free of charge. The Public Regulated Service, which will ensure, from 2014, that key services such as police and ambulance services continue to operate in times of crisis, must be free, they say. So must the Safety of Life Service, a European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) programme, which will be fully available later and will make air navigation safer.
Two other Galileo services will be available from 2014: the Open Service, which will be accessible free of charge and will provide positioning, velocity and timing information, useful for example, in mapping, and the Search-and-Rescue Service, for use in emergencies such as the loss of a sailor at sea. The Commercial Service, allowing commercial applications of the technology, will be available later.
"This framework for the period 2014-2020 is of key importance since the first Galileo services will be offered in 2014 and the full operational capability will be reached by 2020", said rapporteur Marian-Jean Marinescu (EPP, RO).
MEPs point to the navigation and guidance role that the Public Regulated Service could play in various weapons systems and they call on the member states and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to consider reviewing international law or drawing up a new treaty to take account of technological progress since the 1960s, with a view to preventing an arms race in outer space.
Galileo is the EU's own, independent, civilian, global satellite navigation system. Two satellites were launched at the end of 2011 to pave the way for Galileo's services to be fully operational from 2014..
EGNOS, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, acts as an enhancement to the US-based GPS system for safety-critical applications in aviation and marine environments. Its Safety-of-Life Service designed to enhance aviation safety has been operational since March 2011. Europeans have been benefiting from improved GPS signals in Europe provided by EGNOS since 1 October 2009
The committee's amendments to the Commission proposal were adopted by 49 votes to 2, with 1 abstention, giving the rapporteur a mandate to negotiate with the Council. The vote on the legislative resolution will take place after these negotiations.