Europeans Still Love Their Pricey Galileo

The satellite navigation project wins 80% support from EU citizens, and 63% say extra public funds should be found if needed

EU citizens are backing the European Galileo satellite programme according to research.

The European Commission's Eurobaromometer survey found Europeans are "highly positive" about the development of satellite network and the sat-nav technologies linked to the programme.

The vast majority of respondents (80 per cent) feel an independent navigation system should be set up by Europe.

And following the EC's warning last week that more money will be required for the project to be completed on time, it is perhaps rather fortunate that 63 per cent feel extra public funding for the project should be found if needed.

The European Space Agency's Galileo programme has been set up to provide Europe with its very own global navigation satellite system.

But some Europeans might be less keen on backing the project if they were aware of what the tech could be used for. The UK government has made significant investment into Galileo and hopes to use it to develop a satellite tracking road charging scheme, which has divided public opinion.

The first test satellite - the Giove-A - was launched in December 2005 and the network will eventually consist of 30 satellites.

It is hoped some services may be available from 2008, depending on when more satellites are launched.

Until now, sat-nav users have relied on the US GPS and the Russian Glonass satellite networks. But these both fail to provide uninterrupted coverage in Europe and are less accurate than Galileo's claimed one metre.

Around 43 per cent of those surveyed said abandoning or delaying the programme would harm the image of the EU.

Jacques Barrot, the European Commission vice-president, said citizens realise the positive impact Galileo could have on their lives and expect more European commitment to the tech.

He added the EC will continue to work with member states and the industry to complete "this major European innovation project" and get the most out of investment.

The survey quizzed around 26,000 EU citizens about a range of Galileo and sat-nav related issues.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.