Taxpayer Should Not Have to Fork Out for Fiasco of Galileo's Wasted Billions

14 February 2008

Taxpayer Should Not Have to Fork Out for Fiasco of Galileo's Wasted Billions

The huge increase in costs of the European Union's Galileo project should not be passed on to the taxpayer, according to SP Member of Parliament and transport spokesman Emile Roemer. Roemer was responding to revelations in the German Magazine Der Spiegel to the effect that the start up of the European satellite navigation system could cost three times as much as was most recently estimated, amounting in the end to a total of €10 billion. He is asking Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings to explain who is to blame for these costs. "Time after time we've warned about the risks, while all along the project was getting ever more expensive," he says. "But €10 billion is well above even the most pessimistic estimates. This really can't be allowed to go any further."

Emile RoemerThe SP has long sounded the alarm about the risks associated with this megalomaniac project. “Where the first estimates started at €2.5 billion, the costs now threaten to reach four times that amount – and yet the project itself is completely unnecessary," says Roemer. The Galileo satellite system would principally be intended for navigation and civilian use, for which currently the American Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system is used. But in order to justify the burgeoning costs, military applications are now being considered. “The US system is already in place," comments Roemer, the Russian is almost ready for use and the Chinese are working hard on their own system. Yet instead of honest cooperation, the European Union is shooting another 30 satellites into the sky, and €10 billion along with them. We will soon have four almost identical satellite systems going round and round each other. I can't think of a better example of a scandalous waste of money."

Because of the delays to the project and the arrival of other satellite systems, the number of orders – and therefore the level of income from sales – is also declining, bringing a complete fiasco ever nearer. "The project has in recent times already costs the Dutch taxpayer an extra €80 million and my heart misses a beat in anticipation of what further costs we are likely to have to cover," says Roemer. "Finance Minister Wouter Bos has already compared the project to the ill-starred Betuwelijn, a megalomaniac rail project which is totally unmanageable in financial terms. I'm curious to know if, despite everything, Bos will respond to Eurling's request for another pile of taxpayers' money, or whether he will have the courage to say that enough is enough."

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