EU fails to secure private funding for Galileo

European ministers conceded failure in their search for private funding for the struggling Galileo satellite navigation system and said they would have to cough up more cash from public coffers, a Reuters report said.

But they did not agree whether the money to plug the 2.4 billion euro ($3.22 billion) shortfall should come from European Union states or the EU's collective budget and they were still open to private funding if it is offered, the Reuters report, quoting EU president Germany, said.

'We realized that the concession-based model was heading nowhere,' German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee was quoted by the Reuters report as saying.

'For that reason we want to try out all the possibilities of public sector financing including financing via the European Space Agency,' he said, referring to the body which is funded by 17 mostly EU countries and which oversees Europe's space program.

'If we can get private commitments then we will look seriously at that possibility.'

The 30-satellite project is meant to rival the US.-built GPS but it has stalled since a group of aerospace and engineering firms balked at the cost, the Reuters report said.

The consortium included aerospace giant EADS , France's Thales and Alcatel-Lucent , Britain's Inmarsat , Italy's Finmeccanica , Spain's AENA and Hispasat, and an eighth member that includes Deutsche Telekom and the German Aerospace Centre, the report added.

Critics say Galileo is too expensive and there is little point in replicating the US system, the report added.

Even European Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen has called the project 'stupid,' though he later said he meant it had limited use, the report further said.

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