THE European Union's Galileo project, a 30-satellite navigational system designed to rival the US global positioning system (GPS), has been rescued from possible cancellation because of shortage of money. In July the EU Commission in Brussels proposed to national ministers that unspent funds in the Common Agricultural Policy budget should be reallocated to Galileo and this course was approved at the end of last week despite objections from some member countries. As a result Galileo will receive an extra 2.4 billion euros of which 1.6 billion will be money originally allocated to farm subsidies. Galileo is an ambitious project but it has not attracted the private funding expected initially. Although it will to some extent duplicate much of what the US system provides its supporters have always argued that reliance on the American system was dangerous since its first purpose is for defence work. In addition to funding Galileo, the EU's 2008 budget will include money for a related activity, the establishment of the planned European Institute of Technology, another project which failed to get private funding. As a footnote to these budgeting items it is interesting to note that 2008 will be the first year in the EU's history that more money will be spent on economic goals than on the common agricultural policy. The budget commissioner called this change “historic”. Successive departed French presidents are probably turning in their graves.


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