It would appear that the EU and the US are getting closer to resolving the technical issues surrounding the deployment of the EU’s Galileo and the USA’s GPS radionavigation systems.
Concluding the negotiations with the USA has been a priority for the European Union since the discussions on arrangements for cohabitation between the Galileo and the American GPS systems began four years ago.
Initially, the USA disputed the merits of the Galileo programme itself. Considerable progress has been made during the last 18 months and the main obstacles to an agreement between the two parties have now been removed.
The USA now recognises the importance of the Galileo system for all satellite radionavigation users and has taken on board the EU’s objective of achieving full interoperability between Galileo and the GPS system for the maximum benefit of users.
Furthermore, the USA was opposed, for military security reasons, to Galileo having a signal modulation which partly covers that of the GPS’s future military signal – the code M.
European experts were able to show their American colleagues that there is no harmful interference between Galileo’s signals and those of the GPS system and that the two systems are technically perfectly compatible, including in terms of time references and geodesy.
A major advance towards an overall agreement came in the autumn 2003 with the identification of a solution for the government service signal.
Only two questions now remain to be answered: how Galileo’s open signal and the GPS’s military signal will coexist in the event of a crisis, and how the performance of the Galileo system can be further optimised in the future while taking into account the USA’s national security concerns.
‘I hope the remaining obstacles to the signing of an agreement covering all the subjects under discussion will be removed during the forthcoming negotiating session which will be held in Washington on 29 and 30 January’, said Loyola de Palacio the European Commission Vice-President.