back to article Galileo slammed by UK politicians

British MPs have expressed their concern over plans from the European Commission aimed at advancing the troubled Euro-collaborative sat nav project Galileo. The Transport committee of the House of Commons warned that Europe (and in particular the UK) was "sleepwalking" into a multibillion-pound commitment without any proper …


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  1. Laurent_Z
    Gates Horns

    "whether Galileo was actually required, and if so for what"

    USA controlled navigation system.

    IF (lol) there is a war with europe, they engage the encryption units and are the only ones having navigational capabilities...

    Officially, the system to militarily encrypt the GPS feed is not to be added to future sats, "and will not be used at all. Trust Us !"

    Now, Blighty is sure to be on the side of Rightoutness, but we on the old continent would prefer to still be independant from Uncle Sam in case we have to fight them.

    Importance of cynicism : all you risk is being favorably dissapointed...

  2. Simon Greenwood

    It's nice to see that Gwyneth Dunwoody knows what we want

    Is there any indication of exactly when we're going to get them?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Modern guy ...

    'What taxpayers in the United Kingdom and other European countries really need and want is better railways and roads.'

    This says it all.. for some people infrastructure only means tangible things (as tangible as concrete blocks and asphalt can be). For the modern (or simply smart) people it also means internet, phone services, and even GPS-like services.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    not a guy .. oh well :))

    Good luck Galileo !! And now I can guess why the woman thinks like that :) Just wonder what would happen to all the GPS apps and devices in Europe if for some reason the US satellites stop providing signal for them... massive refund requests ?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only this was what she actually said...

    "What taxpayers in the United Kingdom really need and want are better railways and roads, not a useless Identity Card System... The Goverment is poised to spend billions of taxpayers' money on a system without any realistic assessment of its costs and benefits... The government must stop this folly and endeavour to come to its senses."

    One can dream...

  6. Solomon Grundy

    Not about Military Conflict with EU

    The GPS/Galileo debate is not about protecting the EU in the event of war with the U.S. (EU is doomed if US attacks anyway). Galileo is a diplomacy tool useful for negating the negotiation power of US GPS. In the event of a diplomatic disagreement (i.e. US says do X or we will pull GPS) the EU will still be able to get lost in style.

  7. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Road pricing

    If the UK plans for road pricing are initiated they will require a positioning system that can be relied upon, even during times of war.

    If we rely solely on the US system then we can't really be sure road pricing would last for long.

  8. Smell My Finger

    What a load of bollocks!

    We have the opportunity to have a European GPS system that is more accurate than the US system which is both ageing and we have no control of. It's funny how we can find many more billions to pour in to bollocks like Computing for Health and ID Cards that have almost no merits what so ever and certainly don't fulfil the criteria of being "roads and railways" both of which the UK has a grand record of absolutely fucking up (didn't we sell the railways to a load of cowboys, anyway?). It's amazing how these shitbag politcians suddenly get worried about priorities if it's something they don't want.

  9. Martin Gregorie

    Cheaper than some projects and more useful

    So "The Commission is poised to spend billions of taxpayers' money on a satellite system without any realistic assessment of its costs and benefits... The government must stop this folly and endeavour to bring the European Commission to its senses."

    Sounds just like ID cards, doesn't it?

    Except that Galileo will cost the UK much less than ID cards. Its bound to be more useful too: it will actually do what its designed to do.

  10. Terence McCarthy

    Realistic assessment of its costs and benefits?

    The Commission is poised to spend billions of taxpayers' money on a system without any realistic assessment of its costs and benefits."

    The woman must be mad- doesn't she know what her own party has been doing for the last ten years?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Solomon Grundy

    "EU is doomed if US attacks anyway" - wtf?

    US: 301,139,947 people

    EU: 490,426,060 people

    Or do you think the US has a "technological advantage"?

    That was the end of Solomon Grundy. I hope.

  12. Robert Hirst
    Black Helicopters


    I'm sure that shooting down GPS satellites would be a piece of cake, no matter who they belonged too... so the suggestion of America switching them to be encrypted isn't really relevant, since they aren't in geosynchronous orbit and would easily come into reach before too long (at least, they'd be in reach pretty much by the time they were useful for navigation anyway).

    The only difference in terms of GPS availability in the upcoming war with America is that with Galileo, 2 systems which cost enough to feed the starving of the world have now been turned to slag instead of one.

    What's that on the horizon... looks like a swarm of large black birds... oops, did I say "upcoming" war? I meant God Bless America....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why Galileo?

    Imagine if all European aircraft, both civilian and military, could only run on one particular type of fuel that was only produced in the US. How much would we be justified spending on developing our own version of the US fuel? £10 billion? £100 billion? More?

    The UK alone spent £19 billion on its share of the Eurofighter project, and the craft would be rendered next to useless without GPS. Surely it is sensible to spend what amounts to less than a tenth of this cost to ensure that our Eurofighters know which direction they are pointing in if we fall out with the US.

  14. Mr Chris

    @ Solomon Grundy

    "EU is doomed if US attacks anyway"

    Really? And how exactly *would* the US attack Europe, anyway?

    Invasion - a transatlantic invasion would be logistically next-to-impossible, and horrendously open to being sunk on the way over. And as for surprise... it's not quite the English Channel. "Say, Madam President, whay are there a thousand US troop ships partway across the Atlantic?" "Er, we needed some more cleaners at Ramstein."

    Airstrikes - well, yes, the US has a huge air force, but the combined air forces and air defence regiments of the EU could probably have a fairly reasonable stab at seeing them off.

    Nuclear weapons - not really at all likely under any circumstances, for several reasons. First, they'd be blowing up their own bases. Second, there's a strategic deterrent on this side of the pond as well. Whilst the UK's nuclear arsenal may be to a greater or lesser degree dependent on the Americans (but I suspect we could, if push comes to shove, launch them without the assistance of the Americans), France has a few of their own as well.

    So, there you go.

    Anyway - back to the original topic. I heard Ms Dunwoody on Radio 4 this morning. What a shriekingly bonkers woman. Her cogent and well-thought out opinion on the subject: "I DON'T NEED SATELLITE NAVIGATION - I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE I AM".

  15. TeeCee Gold badge

    Another slight problem.

    If they get the money together and build it, there's the next hurdle.

    If you're a manufacturer of commercial GPS products, where's the commercial driver to implement the use of Galileo as well as / instead of the existing US GPS (at extra cost no doubt) rather than sticking with something that you have working perfectly well now? Let's face it people, the "I'll pay extra 'cos I don't trust the US GPS" sales potential is less of a "niche" market and more a sort of "small crack that I could easily fill with polyfilla if only I could be arsed" market.

    You might think that the various military types in the EU would want it but, seeing as who's got the most GPS-guided munitions these days, I know whose target coordinates I'd be most interested in making sure I wasn't at when there's a difference of opinion between the systems.

    The only genuine reason for Galileo is that "we've got our own GPS" has superseded "we've got nukes", "we've got a battlecruiser" and "we've got our own brand of beer" in the global willy-waving stakes.

    The only remaining question is how much the beggars are going to charge us to de-orbit the setup when they can't be bothered to keep chucking money at maintaining it in a few years' time.

  16. Anonymous John

    Where would we be,

    If the Yanks pulled the plug, and we couldn't take the piss out of foreign lorry drivers getting stuck on narrow country lanes?

    Well worth 1.7 billion.

  17. Paul

    We should have it!

    Then perhaps my Tom Tom could accualy find a satalite from time to time.

    (I know the problems with that statment. Its a joke!)

  18. AutumnForester

    hands free driving

    Accuracy at the CM scale as opposed to the 5m or 25m depending on mood of the US. That’s enough to give your car real cruise control, an extra hour’s sleep while your car drives you to work! Keep the police happy as well, hands free driving as well as phones.

  19. Chad H.

    With that kind of thinking..

    The Wright brothers never would have gotten off the ground "Yes, we had some ideas for a flying machine, but trains get things and folks where they want to go, oh, a plane could do that too, albiet with a little more speed, but we need a debate on what this thing is, and whether theres a need for it.

  20. lglethal Silver badge

    God im sick of...

    people saying that if America turned off GPS we would all be doomed. Hasn't anybody heard of a bloody map??

    I mean i dont think the romans had GPS but they did a pretty good job of taking over the (then) known world. Same with Gengis Khan (though im sure he would have loved to have GPS what with all his travelling!)...

    Why doesnt someone just invent an electronic map of the UK/Europe and then measure ground speed and direction (using that old unfashionable kit called a compass) and boom a satnav system without the sat! Probably be a hell of alot more reliable too!

    As for Gallileo i say bring it on. If nothing else, it will add competition to the marketplace which is always a good thing... :)

  21. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Why should we fall out with the US?

    Yeah, we need Galileo because we trust our European colleagues so much more than the US - NOT! OK, let's ignore the fact that if the US "turns it off" the whole of their own economy would slide as well (how would their airlines fly European routes without it, let alone how would their military operate!?!?!?), and just ask why would we end up in a shooting war with the US? Please, unless you're all French or best mates with Bin Laden / Chavez / AhmMadInaDInnerJacket / Kim Il JumpedUp, why? The closest that the UK has ever come to war with the modern US was in the Twenties over some minor Pacific island. Since then we've been pretty much the best of buddies, and far better than with any European country. So aside from the usual looney left anti-Americanisms, give me one good reason.

    Save the money for something like a real road system.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    It's nice to see the UK holds true to US values..

    The one thing the US cannot have is to have another power block, so the UK has been tasked with causing as much disturbance to the EU as possible in order to keep it from happening and to keep US dependencies firmly in place.

    This is just the last installment. I come across fewer and fewer people who actually know how to read a map and plan a journey so there is a huge dependency there. It's almost like Russian gas.

    There is good reason for the UK to stay buddies with the US, it has need of similar distractions (wars) for similar reasons (social systems falling apart like health, the blatant robbery of the pension funds, turning a budget surplus into a deficit - the hard realities of both Brown and Bush).

    That being a proper part of the EU would yield many more benefits is something that needs to be kept away from the general population - that's why Ireland's success is a bit of a pain as it's on THIS side of the moat..

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "huge funding shortfall amounting to £1.7bn" - looks cheap compared to the price of propping up some funny money geordie 'bank'

    The diplomacy point is valid, no govt is going to say to the yanks "ok, I spit on your GPS", they're just going to bend the knee whenever the US stick their bottom lip out. This happens all the time eg. 'the war on drugs'. If the EU has it's own GPS, the yanks don't have a lever.

    @Matt Bryant re: "usual looney left anti-Americanisms" - shouldn't feed the trolls, I know, but I prefer the LLAAs to sycophantic c**ks***ing.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Is everyone here completely blind?

    This is EXACTLY what the EU governments want - people to argue about whether we should rely on the USA or not while BILLIONS of tax funds get flushed down the toilet without a trace. Beyond a joke.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Why should we fall out with the US?

    "Yeah, we need Galileo because we trust our European colleagues so much more than the US - NOT!....

    ....Since then we've been pretty much the best of buddies, and far better than with any European country."

    Just because we're not shooting each other, doesn't mean we're mates. They may be all smiles in public, but do not think for a minute that the US cares at all about the UK beyond how it can be used to further US interests and vice versa. Hell, the only reason we have nuclear weapons is because, after the yanks nicked our research, they basically told us, "We have the bomb. You will all do as you're told." We had to build our own before they'd treat us as anything more than some locals who annoyingly live next to their airbases.

    However, you're unlikely to appreciate the subtleties of geopolitics since you've used the phrase "anti-Americanism". I must admit that it's a fantastic PR job - which other country has managed to stomp around the world telling everyone to bow to their will and, at any sign of dissent, claim that *they* are being treated badly? Truly masterful.

    To put that in context, would you refer to the diplomatic rumblings about Iran as anti-Iranianism? No, thought not. Subservience to the US is clearly your default setting - how else could you conflate a socialist revolutionary and a religious extremist who wants to create an Islamic caliphate. Oh yes that's right, their biggest defining feature is being "not-American".

    You've bought in to the false dichotomy of "with-us-or-against". Well done, have a Big Mac.

  26. Catalina Martinez,

    Politicians betraying UK interests, defending US military monopoly on GPS

    GPS is controlled by the US military. GPS is old and the positioning not sufficiently precise for civil navigation, road tolls etc. The new Galileo network will give EU states guaranteed access to a space-borne precise timing and location service independent of the United States. The US is lobbying hard to keep their global monopoly, as all modern warfare depends on their GPS data. For any strategic conflict the UK (or Europe) may encounter in Central Europa, North Africa or in UK overseas interests, British (or Euro) politicians need Uncle Sam's GPS data. Now UK politicians dancing to the Yank's Polka are about to destroy the commercial opportunities arising for UK firms from precise positioning data AND cementing dependence on the USA.

  27. Graham Bartlett


    As any first-time Scout, Guide or DofE expeditioner (or visitor to Milton Keynes) finds out the hard way, a map (electronic or otherwise) is sod all use if you don't know where you are in the first place...

  28. Steve

    @Matt Bryant

    "how would their airlines fly European routes without it, let alone how would their military operate!"

    Their airplanes don't use it. Indeed, it is only very recently that aircraft have even been allowed to use GPS as a secondary navigation system, never mind a primary one.

    'TeeCee' is right, Galileo is just more global willy-waving, with my tax money

  29. Mark O

    @@Anonymous Coward

    I thought only George Bush supporters could rant xenophobic bullshit like that.

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