In 1994, a Council Resolution welcomed the setting up of a GNSS High Level coordinating Group (HLG) composed of representatives from Member States, users, telecommunication operators, industry and relevant international organisations such as the European Space Agency (ESA) and Eurocontrol.
Apart from day to day technical assistance and coordination work, the activity of FDC focused on this HLG, the major roles being to:
- advise the Commission on how to ensure the coherence of GNSS activities in Europe
- assist the Commission in the development and updating of a GNSS Action Plan.
The main task of CARTEA has been to create an organisational framework needed by the HLG to achieve the objectives of the GNSS Council resolution. CARTEA has assisted DG XIII to manage the Group contribution and supplied the relevant information to enable fulfilment of its remit.
Moreover, the FDC office in Brussels accommodated a permanent secretariat providing operational, technical and logistic support to the three HLG entities, and organising meetings of the following groups throughout 1995:
- The Senior Official Group, mainly composed of representatives of member state administrations and the relevant international governmental organisations such as ESA and Eurocontrol, is the Central Group offering guidance to the High Level Group.
- The Conference Group represents the plenary composition of the HLG and is composed of members representing a large variety of GNSS stakeholders from all potential users to all potential service providers, and also including legal advisers and regulators. It naturally includes the Senior Official Group representatives. The Conference Group receives all the information on the progress and issues associated with the European GNSS-related activities. It offers advice on required actions, such as the identification of potential Ad Hoc Working Groups members; this Conference Group is also in charge of disseminating information.
- The Ad Hoc Working Groups are composed of approximately 100 impartial experts with complementary skills, experience and knowledge, mandated by the Commission. Their task is to highlight all necessary actions that need to be undertaken by the Commission to ensure that Europe will be fully capable to design, develop and implement the European contribution to a GNSS.
The aviation community has expressed the need for highly accurate, continuous and reliable dissemination of location, velocity and time information:
- in real time
- on a world-wide basis
- to an unlimited number of users
- in all weather conditions.
Radio-based satellite navigation systems provide the best solution to satisfy these requirements and various systems are coming into operation.
Europe has decided to be strongly involved in the development of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) which, when operational, will create and promote markets for new equipment and services and, above all, will significantly enhance air transport safety and air traffic management efficiency.
The CARTEA project was set up under Directorate General XIII to coordinate all the GNSS-related activities in the framework of the European Commission actions, such coordination being based on:
- provision of technical assistance to DG XIII with key indicators for the overall programme, advice and expertise in GNSS
- liaison with outside GNSS-related programmes so as to notify DG XIII of every opportunity to contribute to standardisation actions
- communication and distribution of information on GNSS programme progress and its interactions with other EU and international programmes.
Exploitation potential and plans
The "GNSS Action Plan" identified all the necessary actions to be undertaken by listing all the issues to be raised including user requirements' consolidation among other legal, organisational and institutional issues. This Action Plan also suggested a framework for all technical work to be undertaken in the GNSS field in Europe. The European Commission is therefore in a position to propose to the Council and the European Parliament a legislative measure embracing the issues covered by the Action Plan.
Depending on the Council decision, the Commission would be able to take appropriate measures to consolidate the GNSS European contribution, notably by setting up an organisational framework and fostering required cooperation. This cooperation should especially concern third States who conduct work on GNSS, third States who would like to be associated, and relevant international organisations.
Moreover, the office set up by FDC in Brussels under the CARTEA project, with all the necessary tools and expertise, could be considered as the first step towards a European GNSS Coordination Office.