Europe's counterpart to the US GPS system needs a significant funding boost to be developed further.
An estimated 2.4 billion euros are needed to sustain development of the Gallileo satellite navigation network. One proposal is to allocate unused funds from the Common Agricultural Policy for 2007 and 2008, but not all agree that this is a good idea.
Earlier this year EU officials admited that they had failed to secure sufficient financing from private companies. The original plan was to fund the development and deployment of the first four satellites with public money. The remaining 26 satellites needed to complete the constellation were supposed to be financed by a consortium of private companies.
French satellite group Eutelsat said Tuesday that it was interested in planning and providing the 26 satellites needed for Galileo. However, a proposal to seek additional contributions from EU member states wasn't welcomed by many, including France.
Unlike the American DoD operated GPS network, which is available free of charge, the Europeans have planned to charge Galileo users. This is just one of the stumbling blocks, as critics often point out that private companies see no point in investing in such a project due to the fact that the already established and widely used GPS is free and is undergoing major upgrades as we speak.
The European Galileo satellite navigation system was supposed to be operational by 2012, but at the moment this seems like a very unlikely proposition.
Russia is also developing a similar system, named Glonass, and the Chinese seem to be following suite with their Beidou system.