Galileo satellite project in the balance as Britain ask tough questions

LONDON, Nov 12, 2007 (AFP) – The European Union appears to be “sleepwalking into a vast financial commitment” with its troubled Galileo satellite network, and a rigorous cost-benefit analysis must be produced on the system, a British parliamentary committee said Monday. In a report into the network, the House of Commons Transport Committee said it had serious concerns about the Galileo project, and complained about the lack of assessment that measured the system’s true benefits and risks.

The committee called on the British government to do everything in its power to prevent the programme going ahead without the cost-benefit analysis.

European Parliament deputies said last month the ambitious project should be given 890 million euros (1.3 billion dollars) in the EU’s 2008 budget.

The European Commission published proposals in September to raise an extra 2.4 billion euros for the 30-satellite project, mainly using unspent money intended for farm subsidies from the EU’s joint budget.

In “an almost unprecedented move, the EC now proposes that several billion euros should be transferred from other Community budgets, such as agriculture, to the Galileo programme,” the committee said.

In that scenario, European taxpayers would then have to “foot the e