Official Journal of the European Union

C 317/103

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1321/2004 on the establishment of structures for the management of the European satellite radio navigation programmes’

COM(2009) 139 final — 2009/0047 (COD)

(2009/C 317/19)

Rapporteur: Mr MCDONOGH

On 21 April 2009 the European Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 156 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the:

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1321/2004 on the establishment of structures for the management of the European satellite radio navigation programmes

COM(2009) 139 final — 2009/0047 (COD).

The Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 26 June 2009. The rapporteur was Mr McDonogh.

At its 455th plenary session, held on 15 and 16 July 2009 (meeting of 15 July 2009), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 174 votes with 5 abstentions.

1.   Conclusions and recommendations

1.1   We strongly support the Commission’s proposals, since legislation that was enacted back in 2004 could be very much out of date.

1.2   The security of systems is of vital importance, and steps should be taken to eliminate hackers.

1.3   Proposed background checks for security purposes must be made on employees, as the management structure is made up of civilian staff. Staff should also be aware of their high responsibility to the end-users, so that continuity and reliability of service should be ensured.

1.4   The cost to the users must be competitive with other similar systems.

1.5   It is important that the European Union should be independent from other providers, who could switch off their systems at will, and monitor for either commercial or military purposes, the end-user activity.

1.6   Galileo should be explained properly to the citizens of the EU, since it is going to affect directly or indirectly the lives of most citizens, from pilots to miners, to farmers, and in order that its full potential can be exploited.

1.7   The EESC should be consulted at various stages of the decision-making about the progress being made in the implementation of the project.

1.8   The EESC supports the funding of EU GNSS programmes and underlines that multi-annual funding should be secured so as to ensure the success of the programmes.

1.9   The role of the EESC should be recognised. GNSS programmes have a direct impact on citizens and the EESC should be fully informed and consulted. Galileo is developed and controlled by civilians and transparency is needed. The European Commission should keep on consulting the EESC as major issues linked to surveillance, individual rights and privacy will arise at a later stage.

2.   Introduction

2.1   The EESC has already adopted several opinions on Galileo (1).

2.2   It is important to get Galileo up and running as soon as possible in order that Europe should have its own satellite navigation system like the US, and not be dependent on others to supply these services.

2.3   This will increase security from a national point of view, and provide income from a commercial point of view. This should enable commercialisation, and produce a valuable source of revenue.

2.4   The EESC should give full support to the Commission for this legislation which is urgently needed.

3.   General remarks on European GNSS programmes

3.1   It is important that the EU be independent from other major global satellite service providers. However Galileo will be more efficient on the global market and EGNOS will complement other systems and improve the quality of information.

3.2   Galileo also offers access to space to some Member States which would otherwise not be involved in space activities. GNSS programmes should also enjoy good ‘public relations’, which would enhance the EU's image among the public and secure the success of the programmes. Awareness-raising activities about the benefits of European GNSS programmes are necessary to allow the public to make the most of the new opportunities.

3.3   European GNSS programmes can have a positive impact on other EU policies.

3.4   Research in this field should be encouraged.

4.   Specific remarks

4.1   Regulation (EC) No. 1321/2004 needs to be amended explicitly and quickly for the following reasons:

The current situation, which can be characterised by the co-existence of two texts which in places contradict each other - Regulation (EC) No 1321/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 683/2008 - is unsatisfactory from a legal point of view.

Regulation (EC) No. 683/2008 provides that the Commission is to manage all aspects relating to system security, but at the same time entrusts the Supervisory Authority to ensure accreditation with regards to security. The precise role of the Authority as regards security and accreditation needs to be quickly clarified.

4.2   Under the amendment to the regulation, the Agency has the following objectives:

security accreditation: the Agency is to initiate and monitor the implementation of security procedures and perform security audits on European GNSS Systems;

contribute to the preparation of the commercialisation of European GNSS systems, including the necessary market analysis;

operate the Galileo security centre.

4.3   An ex-ante evaluation was carried out when the Agency was set up in 2004.

4.4   This amendment to the Agency’s rules of governance is designed to take into account the lessons learned from the experience of managing the Agency and its contribution and its role in European satellite radio-navigation programmes.

4.5   A new framework for public governance is therefore necessary. Regulation (EC) No 683/2008 provides for:

the strict division of responsibilities between the European community, represented by the Commission, the Authority, and the European Space Agency;

granting the Commission responsibility for the management of the programmes; and

setting out precisely the tasks given at that time to the Authority.

4.6   The establishment of satellite radio-navigation systems cannot be sufficiently achieved by the individual Member States since this objective exceeds the financial and technical capabilities of any single Member State. Action at community level is therefore the most appropriate basis for completing the European GNSS programmes (Galileo and EGNOS).

Brussels, 15 July 2009.

The President of the European Economic and Social Committee

Mario SEPI

(1)  OJ C 256, 27.10.2007, p. 73-75.

OJ C 256, 27.10.2007, p. 47.

OJ C 324, 30.12.2006, p. 41-42.

OJ C 221, 8.9.2005, p. 28.