EU Admits Military Use for Galileo

From the January 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

In a significant policy shift, the European Commission stated in mid-October 2006 that military uses should be considered for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigational system despite prior commitments to limit its use to civilian applications.

Speaking in Luxembourg, Jacques Barrot, European commissioner for transport, declared that “the idea of only using Galileo for civilian purposes will not persist into the future because I think that our military cannot do without some sort of [navigation] system.”

In proposing military applications for Galileo, rival to the United States’ Global Positioning System (gps), Barrot has “crossed a new threshold” that sets the EU “on a collision course with Britain and the United States,” reports the Belfast Telegraph (Oct. 14, 2006). The U.S. originally opposed the project based on the very fact that it could have military uses. Floating the idea will “help to boost the EU’s ambition to develop a larger military capability to back up its foreign policy” (ibid.).

Though billed as an effort to recoup the massive costs of the project, there should be little question that military use for the system was always intended. “For some EU officials,” London’s Financial Times stated, “Mr. Barrot was simply stating explicitly what they already knew: The end-users of Galileo’s highly sophisticated navigational and mapping systems would almost certainly include the military” (Oct. 14, 2006).

The implications of a European military force guided by the state-of-the-art Galileo, set to become operational in 2008, are no small matter. Consider: America’s gps has been an important factor in the U.S. being able to maintain its global military supremacy. Soon, Europe will have its own system, even more advanced than gps. Galileo promises, for instance, to be accurate within one meter, as opposed to gps’s 10 meters.

As the Trumpet pointed out nearly two years ago in February 2005, “Galileo will be used as a key component of the EU’s military resources, and the U.S. will have lost the advantage provided by its gps.”