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Commission outlines strategy for European role in GNSS development

The European Commission has adopted a communication aimed at ensuring Europe plays a full role in the development of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). With the market developing very fast, the Commission is concerned that unless Europe acts now, it will be left behin...
The European Commission has adopted a communication aimed at ensuring Europe plays a full role in the development of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). With the market developing very fast, the Commission is concerned that unless Europe acts now, it will be left behind and shut out of a market estimated to be worth US$ 50 billion by 2005.

Transport Commissioner Neil Kinnock states that "we need to decide whether to go alone, or to cooperate with our international partners. We would greatly prefer to cooperate, but only under the right conditions. That means a full European role in system development and operation, guarantees of adequate control of satellite signals and the opportunity for European industry to compete on equal terms."

The Commission believes that, within the next few years, GNSS will generate a market revolution as far-reaching as recent advances in telecommunications, with GNSS being as common as GSM is today. However, the existing GNSS infrastructure is under the military control of the USA and Russia, limiting the capacity of European action. To move away from this position, the Commission has outlined a two stage approach.

Firstly, Europe aims to get the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) up and running by 2000. This will augment the basic service of the US and Russian systems, with a European component. The second stage - GNSS-2 - aims at developing a second generation satellite-based system providing an enhanced service, and fully meeting the needs of the civilian community. Development of GNSS-2 would start in parallel to the work on EGNOS.

The Commission outlines possible options for the development of second generation GNSS services: joint development of GNSS by all major players, the EU developing a GNSS with one or more international partners, and independent development by the EU of its own system. The Commission favours intensifying contacts with the main international partners with a view to joint development. However, it sets out a number of conditions which would need to be met to safeguard the EU's interests. If these cannot be met, then the Commission proposes that the EU develop its own system independently.
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