Yesterday (Wednesday 3 April), the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso visited the European Global Navigation and Satellite System Agency (GSA) in Prague. He saw how the GSA is managing the Galileo and EGNOS programmes on behalf of the Commission and was briefed on developments in these exciting and valuable European space programmes.
President Barroso visited the GSA in Prague and met the staff.
"With the European GNSS Agency, Prague has become one of the hubs for all those who are engaged within the space industry across Europe and in the Czech Republic," said President Barroso.
"Galileo is a strategic project to ensure the European Union's independence in space technology and policy, a sector of major importance for the competitiveness of our industry and that has also become critical for the well-being of our citizens,” he continued.
The Galileo programme is the EU's initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. The fully deployed system will consist of 30 satellites and the associated ground infrastructure.
“Space-related activities are key for Europe's 2020 strategy, as they create high skilled jobs, commercial opportunities and boost innovation all over Europe. They also symbolise the very essence of the European Union, our capacity to join forces across Europe for a faster economic recovery and more balanced growth in the coming years," stated President Barroso.
Mr. Paul Weissenberg, Deputy Director-General of DG Enterprise welcomed President Barroso and thanked him for his support. He noted major recent progress in the Galileo programme.
“Remarkable achievements have been recorded by our first four operational satellites placed in orbit: two weeks ago, Galileo-only signals produced positioning results of excellent accuracy,” said Mr Weissenberg. “These results are very encouraging as they surpassed technical expectations, and allow us to realistically envisage an outstanding quality of services to come.”
At the same time, the deployment of the infrastructure continues at an accelerated pace. The next two launches are planned in autumn, with many more to follow in 2014. The Commission’s objective is to start providing Galileo early services as from October 2014. “I am happy to inform you that we are on track,” said Mr. Weissenberg.
“Galileo is a concrete showcase for the EU’s industrial policy. It is public money well invested. It is smart, sustainable and inclusive growth ‘made in the EU’,” stated Mr. Weissenberg. The cumulative benefits of Galileo to the EU economy are expected to reach €90 billion over the next 20 years.
A ‘snapshot’ of the agency was given by GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides: the agency currently has 71 staff but would increase substantially at its HQ and two Galileo Security Monitoring Centres by 2017.
Mr. des Dorides outlined the GSA’s evolving mission to drive market development and to ensure the secure operations. He also emphasised the role of EGNOS – Europe’s augmentation system for GNSS signals – that GSA will be managing by 2014. This will be followed by the Galileo early services next year and full responsibility for Galileo from 2016/17.
“EU GNSS services will be carried out through a focussed, specialised, flexible and efficient European GNSS Agency,” stated Mr des Dorides, “The GSA will be a unique Agency having the large majority of its tasks delegated by the European Commission.”
“A significant challenge for the GSA will be to move from a ‘technology push’ programme’, today, to a ‘user oriented demand pull programme’ in the future,” noted Mr. des Dorides.
On behalf of the GSA staff Mr. des Dorides thanked President Barroso for his visit and this important recognition of the GSA’s work and efforts.
The GSA relocated from Brussels to Prague in September 2012. Operational responsibility for Europe’s GNSS programmes will be gradually transferred from the European Commission to the GSA during the next multi-annual financial framework (2014-2020).
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