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Galileo is a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) developed by the European Union and managed by the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency. According to the European Space Agency, Galileo will provide an accurate, global positioning service to be used by governments, citizens, military and industry, and will be fully operational in 2020.

On 24 May 2018, the Department for Exiting the European Union published a technical note detailing the UK’s participation in Galileo. In the note, the Government stated that it wanted to “continue participating” in Galileo, contending that an end to UK participation in the satellite system would be “to the detriment of Europe’s prosperity and security”, possibly resulting in “delays and additional costs to the programme”. The UK Government also stated that although it remains the UK’s “immediate preference” to collaborate on Galileo, it was also exploring alternatives, including the development of a domestic satellite system.

However, in June 2018, delegates to the European Space Agency approved the procurement of the next set of contracts for the satellite system, with the UK still excluded from bidding for them. In response, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, pledged to spend £92 million on scoping out an alternative to Galileo, as a contingency, if the 27 EU member states continued to not allow the UK to be involved in contract negotiations and security discussions during the creation of the satellite system. This process is expected to take approximately 18 months to complete. In the event of a no deal Brexit, the Government has stated that the UK will “no longer play any part” in the development of Galileo.


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