Germany confident of Galileo project takeover

The European Union's German presidency expressed confidence that the EU will take over the Galileo satellite project, faced with demands for more time and money from private builders, an AFP report said.

'I am confident we will reach a solution on that in June' when EU transport ministers meet, German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee, was quoted as saying.

'There will be greater participation by the public sector in the construction phase of the system,' he said, three days before a deadline for the eight private builders to sort out their differences.

The Galileo project is meant to compete with the US global positioning system navigation system, which is free and used in many vehicles, boats and aircraft, but has been accused of being unreliable, the report said.

But almost two years after being named, a private consortium of industry giants, AENA, Alcatel, EADS, Finmeccanica, Hispasat, Inmarsat, TeleOp and Thales, has made little progress on the project, angering the commission, the AFP report said.

'Galileo is going through a deep and grave crisis,' Tiefensee was further quoted as saying.

He said it was probable that public funds would be used in the 'construction' of the system while the private partners would take responsibility for the 'exploitation phase'.

One official has said that completely taking over Galileo would cost a just less than 2 billion euros ($2.7 billion), the AFP report further said.