It was just over three years ago that the Commons Transport Committee has said it has serious concerns about the merits of the £2.9 billion pound Galileo project and the way in which the European Commission planned to fund it.
Back then MPs on the committee were saying that the European satellite navigation system rival to America’s Global Positioning System (GPS) must be stopped from going ahead until its costs, risks and benefits have been thoroughly assessed.
Fast forward to today and we find that Berry Smutny, the CEO of OHB Technology, a company that has a £475 million contract to build 14 Galileo satellites, has been suspended after leaked US diplomatic cables revealed he considered the project to be a ‘stupid idea’ and ‘a waste of taxpayers’ money’. We also find that the £2.9bn bill for taxpayers in the EU is now estimated to have risen to around £6bn. Yet despite this obscene sum being devoted to the Galileo project, sheer incompetence and waste on a gigantic scale attracts no consequence. As EU Referendum points out:
‘That Smutny has lost his job in itself tells you something. The euroslime can commit all sorts of indiscretions and rob the taxpayer blind, yet they get to keep their jobs. But one word against the EU’s spendthrift vanity project and you are out on your ear.’
Galileo is Europe’s attempt to match America’s progress in technology. This is the “Quaero” fiasco all over again – where French President Jacques Chirac’s decided to build a ‘European’ rival to Google. Being European it would obviously require a partner for the French, so Germany was wooed to take part in the great search engine collaboration dubbed ‘Quaero’.
Up to €2 billion of taxpayers’ money was pledged between the two countries and planning work got started, while Google and Yahoo! carried on going from strength to strength with their respective portals, leaving the European consortium in its wake. Less than a year later and the ‘Quaero’ consortium had fallen apart. What odds that Galileo goes the same way? Or is this one different because the French has a military interest in the project despite years of lies peddled in various countries, including the UK, that Galileo was a purely civilian system?
Years of research and a lot of investment went into developing GPS for successful civilian use from its original military application. The EU wants the same prestige and capability in a fraction of the time, by copying an existing technology long after the Americans have already moved on to the next generation of technology. The game of catch up will be never ending because vainglorious EU wastrels insists on centrally planning such projects and using public money in a scattergun fashion without revealing the real purpose of it.