Handelsblatt reports that Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen has made the latest in a series of gaffes. He told journalists that the Galileo EU satellite project was “in some ways a dumb project”. His spokesman quickly moved to correct the Commissioner saying that his remark had been misunderstood and that the Commissioner naturally thought Galileo was “extremely important”. He explained that “Verheugen indeed said ‘dumb’, but he meant ‘simplistic’”.
Which, of course, is sooooo much better.
He might also have added that, up until this point, it has also been a spectacular failure. It is seriously behind schedule and the private funding agreements seem to have collapsed. As EU Referendum has highlighted a number of times, Galileo is in serious trouble and the EU is looking to force member states' taxpayers to bail out this massive fucking vanity project.
For make no mistake, vanity project is what this is.
Member states, therefore, are to be asked to sign what amounts to a blank cheque, something in the past they have been very reluctant to do. M. Barrot might find it even more difficult to extract the money, especially as budget commissioner, Dalia Grybauskaite, has said that the project was "under serious question" with doubts about "its ability to perform at all".
Although she adds that, "Galileo is very important and Europe needs to invest in it," an executive close to Galileo has declared that the market for commercial (paid) services "is just not there." We were too optimistic, he says: "GPS (Navstar)is fine for most purposes. Besides, who gets the money from satellite navigation services? Usually the maker of the device, not the satellite operator."
Whatever the funding options, the EU is asking the taxpayers of the EU to bail the project out to the tune of nearly €10 billion (£6 billion). Now, this may be made through increased donations from EU member states, but it is entirely possible that it will be made through chargeable schemes, such as road pricing.
As someone whose portfolio includes the European Union, [Hague] really should know that road pricing using satellites is a nice way of the British taxpayer funding this black hole [Galileo] in the EU budget, which has already cost them £200 million. As UKIP have pointed out:This government signed up to Directive 2004/52 which will ensure the entire road pricing schemes in EU countries are the same, and can be linked to Galileo.
And as I have written before:Galileo satellite system: Multi billion pound 'grand project' that is driven by delays, costs and technical problems. Will be superseded by competition. The need to pay for this project is the main reason for the hated road pricing scheme.
Which is why it seems that road-pricing will go ahead, but the government is pushing for schemes to be introduced by local councils (so that they get the blame); however, the technology will have to conform to a particular manner of operating.
The draft Local Transport Bill will give councils more flexibility to match road pricing schemes to local conditions, while ensuring they remain compatible with schemes in other areas.
That technology will not, of course, be conforming to a British national standard, but one set by EU Directive 2004/52 [PDF].
And let's be absolutely fucking clear about this: if local raod pricing schemes are introduced, the charging will be in addition to the current car and fuel taxes (because these last are dealt with on a national level).
But that won't stop Galileo tracking your movements (assuming that the fucking thing ever works).