The UK’s pending withdrawal from the European Unon is already damaging the EU’s defence cooperation as the political relationship between the Continent’s allies becomes increasingly strained over the basic architecture of Europe’s ability to defend itself against the hostile acts of an emboldened Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and meddling in EU political affairs.
That uncertainty has no trickled down to the EU’s Galileo programme – the global navigation satellite system that is being created by the European Union through the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement at the recently completed G20 in Argentina that the UK would no longer have access to Galileo caused many onlookers to panic as they worried about the future of the programme.
Under EU rules, non-EU-members cannot participate in the development of Galileo’s secure public regulated service – an encrypted military signal. The UK will be forced to leave the European satellite navigation programme once it is no longer a member of the bloc and British companies will no longer be able to participate in the European Space or civil programmes, in addition to being blocked from having full access to military data collected by Galileo.
UK-based companies will lose out from both Galileo and the earth observation program Copernicus, which underpins an industry the UK hoped would generate £40 billion a year by 2030. after London invested €1.4 billion into the groundbreaking Galileo programme, an analogue of the US’ GPS, prior to the Brexit vote in 2016.
The British government will now be forced to spend £100 million on an 18-month feasibility study to define how the UK will develop its own satellite programme, with the sort of military capabilities needed to counter Russia’s overtly belligerent actions against EU members and the NATO alliance.
London is in the process of looking for partners for the project in Australia and New Zealand, which will cost an additional €6-to-7 billion.