Monday, November 12, 2007

Discovering Galileo

It seems that some of our politicians have woken up to the fact that we are funding a fucking massive white elephant. Well, they've woken up to the funding of one of the fucking massive white elephants. [Emphasis mine.]
Ministers should call a halt to British involvement in a £10 billion European satellite navigation system until it can be proven to represent value for money, MPs say.

Gwyneth Dunwoody, the chairman of the committee, said: "The Government must stop this folly and endeavour to bring the European Commission to its senses.

Yeah, good luck with that, love.
"The EU now appears to be sleep-walking into a further vast financial commitment to Galileo which is likely to take the public funding for the project to £10 billion, without any realistic assessment of its costs and benefits.

"We must have independent and up-to-date evidence that proceeding with Galileo is worthwhile, and if it can be demonstrated that Galileo offers good value for tax-payers' money. Any decision on funding must be based on sound management of European Union budgets."

Well, let us leave aside the fact that "sound management" and "European Union budgets" are not concepts that sit tremendously well together, and see if we have "any up-to-date evidence" as to whether or not "proceeding with Galileo is worthwhile" or whether it "offers good value for tax-payers' money", shall we?
The Government originally signed up to Galileo on the basis that taxpayers would finance the first four satellites, and industry would pay for two thirds of the costs of the next 26 in a public-private partnership (PPP).

However, a proposed PPP deal collapsed this year. Only one test satellite has so far been launched.

Right. So, the private sector has actually assessed whether Galileo is good value for money, and they have run a fucking mile. So, what do we think?

That's right: it's going to be astronomically expensive and a total fucking disaster. Run! Run for the hills!

Unfortunately, as Timmy points out, this isn't about value for money or even utility.
It’s a political project dear: it’s not amenable to standard cost benefit analysis. Big important people have their own GPS systems. The EU is big and important, thus it will have a GPS system. It’s dick waving, not rational.

A bit like the Olympics really: the Olympics iiiinnnnn spaaaaaaaaaace...

UPDATE: EU Referendum sums up the problems.
However—and here is the rub—with the adoption of the Lisbon treaty which brings with it a space policy and an EU competence, the EU commission can go ahead with the project, on the basis of a qualified majority vote. This is on the basis of the British government (i.e., us, the taxpayers) financing 17 percent of the total costs, with two thirds of the voting members making no contribution at all to a project which, over term could cost at least £10 billion.

Thus, while the Committee's report makes highly entertaining reading, and listening to Dunwoody is even more entertaining, what they say or think makes not a blind bit of difference - the grand projet will go ahead anyway. Our role is simply to pay the bills.

Can we leave yet?


Pogo said...

The likelyhood is, of course, that Galileo will be "cost justified" by becoming the reference source for the proposed EU-wide road-pricing scheme.

Bill Sticker said...

As Pogo points out, no Galileo, no road pricing via GPS, no tax. Oh dear, what a shame, how sad.



Anonymous said...

The EU will/must pay ANY price for this system because their future police state depends on it, and Of course the EU commisars are Yank haters who would far rather suck up to those 'freedom loving Chinese' that the evil Americans. You will notice that the major financial winners of the Galileo system would be the French, funny that, Eh? To the French, the EU is there for the sole benefit of the French! They want a Euro army BUT they want to be in charge AND they want it to use French weapons AND they want to run the HQ from guess where? Yep, France! The French put the interests of the FRENCH first and last.
It seems that the French dream of ruling Europe is coming true? In truth the Galileo system is a direct subsidy for the French aerospace industry to the tune of billions(of our money of course)!

Anonymous said...


Guess who gets loads of work launching the sattelites into space? Yep you guessed it, ESA!(french) Billions of Euros in direct subsidy to the French! they must be pissing themselves at our stupidity.

Anonymous said...

There was a British space program from 1958 to late 1971. Prospero, a British satellite, launched by a British rocket from Woomera is still up there. The program was successful and needless to say carried out on a shoestring budget. It was cancelled by Heath just as the useful space age was taking off (pun intended).

If we'd spent a fraction of the money we've wasted on the EU, on our own space program since 1971 it would have done wonders for our knowledge, sense of adventure, industry, jobs and profit.

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