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India, European Union set to sign pact on Galileo project

Amit Baruah

Agreement on the satellite navigation venture during September 7 summit


  • Galileo has 30 satellites, is expected to be operational by 2008
  • Considered a real alternative to the American Global Positioning System
  • India's participation will guarantee availability of high quality signals

    NEW DELHI: India and the European Union are set to conclude an agreement on New Delhi's participation in the Galileo satellite navigation project during the September 7 India-E.U. summit, European diplomats told this correspondent.

    The two sides have been negotiating the details of the Indian participation in the project for some time now.

    Galileo, a system with 30 satellites, is expected to be operational by 2008 and is seen as a real alternative to the American Global Positioning System (GPS).

    A joint press statement issued after the last India-E.U. summit in November 2004 had said: "We welcome the progress in the ongoing discussion on the E.U.-India Draft Cooperation Agreement on the Galileo satellite navigation project. It will ensure India's equitable participation in Galileo space, ground and user segments and will guarantee the availability of highest quality signals over the Indian territory."

    "Considering that India has well proven capabilities in space, satellite and navigation-related activities, the agreement will provide an important positive impulse for Indian and European industrial cooperation in many high tech areas. We express our willingness to continue our discussions with a view to conclude the agreement in the near future," it had added.

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, E.U. Commissioner for External Relations Benito Ferrero-Waldner and E.U. High Representative Javier Solana will be in New Delhi for the summit meeting, during which a detailed "action plan" for cooperation will be issued.

    During the negotiations, India told the E.U. that it wanted full participation in the project, with New Delhi having a say in major decisions.

    The official E.U. website on the project said it would ensure the independence of European economies from the systems of other states, which could deny access to civil users at any time, and to enhance safety and reliability.

    "The only systems currently in existence are the United States Global Positioning Service (GPS) and the Russian GLONASS system, both military but made available to civil users without any guarantee for continuity," it stated.

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