With the country’s taxpayers already having paid 1 billion pounds, and the EU shutting Britain out of the Galileo satellite project, have spurred up a fresh row over UK’s involvement with the programme and also threatens to spoil the Brexit talks.
Majority of the state members have turned down against the UK and voted for pushing ahead the next steps for a contract of the 8 billion pounds project, in spite of requests to delay to allow negotiations over British engagement in progress. Contract bidding has been blocked for UK firms.
To rival the US bases and controlled global positioning system, the 8 billion pound Galileo, the satellite navigation system is intended. Aimed to be fully functional by 2020, Galileo will provide accurate navigation, positioning and timing information, meant to be used by the military, government sector, industries and citizens.
British firms have been highly instrumental in its designing and built up and restricting UK’s involvement would further lead to up to three years of delay and additional cost implications of 1 billion pound, as per a warning in a technical report handed last month to EU negotiators.
Gyimah also mentioned that the UK government is evident in its preference towards full contribution towards the Galileo programme, as a profound security pact with EU with the negotiations be allowed to work their course. He also mentioned that forcing and utilising the vote and excluding UK companies from the contract on unfurnished security reasons, the EU has put all at stake.
The result prompted a furious response from the UK science minister, Sam Gyimah, who repeated the claim that Britain was willing to “walk away” from the project, to develop a rival satellite. The UK was beaten by a “simple majority” within the 28 member states.
Gyimah said: “The government has been clear that our preference is to contribute fully to Galileo as part of a broad security partnership with the EU, and that negotiations should be allowed to run their course. By forcing through this vote, while excluding UK companies from the contracts on unfounded security grounds, the European Commission has put this at risk.
The development on the decision to treat UK like any other country who does not fall under the EU pact, came 24 hours after the European communion’s officials gained support by the 27 member states and despite many concerns by some officials with the high-handed approach on this issue.
Michael Bernie, EU’s chief negotiator, was even backed by France, who is very particular on great cooperation in future and UK’s dearest EU security partner.
With the advent of all these, UK has threatened to seek the return of all its previous financial contributions. Such move for sure would initiate a broader withdrawal pact and open the sensitive issue of the country’s 39 billion pound divorce bill.