EU members agree to fund Galileo project

European Union governments agreed to jointly complete the development of the much-delayed Galileo satellite navigation project after mollifying Spain, which had demanded a bigger stake in the venture, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Spain was the lone holdout in a 26-1 vote at an EU meeting on moving ahead with the $5 billion undertaking.

In seeking unanimity, the EU later won Spain's approval with a deal that said a secondary ground station, planned for Spain to monitor emergency services on Galileo channels, may one day be a full-blown ground control station if Spain pays for that upgrade, the report said.

The European Commission set a December 31 deadline for final approval of the satellite program. When completed, by 2013, it is expected to rival the American global positioning system, which also is satellite-based.

The Associated Press report added that on November 23, EU governments agreed to a taxpayer bailout for the project, several months after a consortium of private companies walked away from it in a financing dispute.

Most of the $3.5 billion needed to complete Galileo will come from unused EU farm funds.

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