British sources have revealed that there are differing opinions on Galileo with some member states “surprised” at the European Commission’s “hardline” approach to negotiations surrounding Galileo.
The monster row surrounding Galileo centres around the EU’s insistence to block the UK from accessing the Public Regulated Service – otherwise known as PRS, a system used by EU member states for defence and emergency services uses.
One of the EU’s arguments involves the French and the Germans with Paris aggrieved that one of Brussels’ most trusted military partners – the UK – will be prevented from working on the system as a result of Brexit.
Officials from Paris have privately told Commission negotiators that they are unhappy that the UK is being denied access to the EU-wide scheme.
Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the Baltic states are all objecting to the UK from being shutout of Galileo.
However, a German-led clique, involving Jean-Claude Juncker’s controversial former chief of staff Martin Selmayr, are exceeding their remit and attempting to force London out of the project.
Several member states are upset that Mr Selmayr, in April, wrote to the UK’s ambassador to the EU Sir Tim Barrow attempting to end British participation in the project without any real consolation.
Thus far, British taxpayers have contributed over £1 billion to the Galileo system, which has prompted called for the so-called Brexit divorce bill to be readdressed in order to reclaim money.
Under Brussels’ rules only member states can access or work on the PRS signal. The European Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said this could change with the right post-Brexit treaty or agreement in place.
Despite the ruckus, Brussels has seemingly got one up on the UK with the EU’s decision to strengthen its negotiating arm by planning to give the go-ahead for procuring the next set of satellites after EU bosses agreed to assume all liabilities that the ESA would incur taking on the contract.
Britain has previously hoped to use the need for an unanimous vote to stop any advances in Galileo by choosing to veto any new contracts.
However, thanks to the EU’s willingness to accept any liabilities a simple majority is only required in order to push through the new contracts.
The UK’s veto threat has already set the new batch of satellites back by at least but the British blockade will be manoeuvred around at the next vote on June 13.
Brussels is likely to get sufficient support from member states with many of the EU27, including Germany, opting to side with the Commission’s tough negotiating stance on Galileo.
According to sources familiar with the negotiations have said a group of member states have expressed their surprise at the “hardline” tactics adopted by EU negotiators.
They said the Commission’s stance “does not represent the wider European security view”.
The source added a number of member states had expressed “a lot of surprise at the hardline the Commission has taken”.