EU still split on Galileo funding source

EU nations vowed to push ahead with the development of the Galileo satellite navigation project - a rival to the US-run Global Positioning System - but were split on whether or not to spend any money on it, an Associated Press report said.

According to the report, the European Commission calls Galileo 'a strategic project' that will end Europe's reliance on the GPS signal which the US can disconnect at any moment.

At a meeting of telecommunications and transport ministers from European Community countries, Britain, the Netherlands and Germany led opposition to using $3.3 billion in EU funds to rescue Galileo after private money dried up when eight companies disagreed on how to share the work, the report said.

The money would come from unspent EU agricultural and administrative funds.

Portugal's transport minister and the meeting's chairman, Mario Lino, acknowledged disagreements over funding but was confident Galileo - whose 30 satellites are to be launched by 2013 - will get the final go-ahead from EU leaders at a mid-December Brussels summit, according to the report.

Germany was initially opposed to using money from the 27-nation EU's budget and suggested the 17-nation European Space Agency should fund the project, the report said. That plan would also secure more business for German firms.

Officials from the Netherlands and Britain said funding should come from the EU's long-term research and development program, the report said.

Galileo's total cost is estimated at $4.7 billion to $5 billion, according to the report.