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Minister Chides Contractors For Galileo Delays

By | February 26, 2007

      Contractors that are to build Galileo, the European global positioning system, have dithered far too long in deciding how their joint company shall be structured, according to Wolfgang Tiefensee, German federal minister of transport, building and urban affairs, who also is president of the Council of the European Union.

      He gave the contractors two weeks to show him how they will reach agreement.

      In a press communiqué, Tiefensee said negotiations among the companies have dragged on and finally stalled, “seriously jeopardizing the implementation of the Galileo satellite system,” which would be an alternative navigation service to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, and the Russian GLONASS.

      “Because of this lack of agreement and the failure to [establish] a management organization” to execute the Galileo program, “the negotiations on the conclusion of a concession contract have been stalled for weeks,” he stated.

      “As president of the Council of the [European Union], I have urged the eight companies that are jointly bidding for the Galileo concession to submit proposals to me without delay as to how the unresolved issues on the industry side can be resolved,” Tiefensee noted.

      “Clear organizational and management structures have to be created in order to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion,” he stated.

      He spoke after a meeting in Berlin with officials of the firms.

      They are the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS), Alcatel-Lucent, Thales, Finmeccanica, Inmarsat, Hispasat, AENA and TeleOp.

      “The companies involved have still not established their Galileo Operation Co.,” Tiefensee noted, saying he views the delays “with concern.”

      Further, the firms haven’t named a chief executive officer for the joint company, he continued.

      The contractors are breaking a promise they made, he asserted.

      Those firms, he said, “have failed to honor two major pledges which they gave in their December 2005 agreement on the creation of workable management and organizational structure.”

      Galileo is a project of the European Union and the European Space Agency.

      The Galileo Supervisory Authority is to negotiate the Galileo deal with the consortium of contractors. But after “more than one year, it has still not been possible to bring these negotiations to a conclusion, and they have now come to a standstill,” he said.

      So Tiefensee said it is time for dawdling to cease. “The delays that we are now experiencing are not acceptable,” he said.

      Tiefensee said that he will assume that the coalition of contractors is “still keen to bring the negotiations to a speedy conclusion and that it intends to honor its pledges to establish clear structures as soon as possible.”

      Therefore, “I have urged the industry [firms] to submit, within the next two weeks, detailed concrete proposals as to how they intend to solve their problems.”

      This then will come up for discussion at a European Union Transport Council meeting in Brussels at the end of March, he said.

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