Farming Funds Plundered For EU satellites
Posted, September 19, 2007 @ 00:00
The EU today announced plans to use almost £1.8 billion to bail out Galileo, the ailing satellite navigation system. Most of this money will come from unspent Common Agricultural Policy funds. The money was originally to have come from a private consortium, but disagreements between companies from France, Germany and Italy left the project with a major budget deficit for the period 2007-2013.
Conservative Spokesman on Defence, Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, who earlier met officials from the UK Department of Transport, has strongly questioned the justice of the proposed diversion of funds. He said:
"The Commission has acted with a tactless indifference to the sufferings of British farmers, who are already struggling with the combined pressures of foot-and-mouth, Single Farm Payment delays, and a supermarket squeeze on profit margins. Raiding funds that were specifically set aside to help the farming industry is entirely the wrong approach to Galileo's budgetary crisis.
"One of the key difficulties with the Galileo project all along has been that while nations such as Britain see a primarily civilian use for the satellites, a hard-line faction led by France has demanded an additional, military purpose. Others have even more ambitious aims in terms of boosting the EU's foreign and military policies. Private investors are understandably concerned to ensure the primacy of a commercial application, and so long as reassurance is not forthcoming they will continue to be wary."
Giles Chichester MEP, Conservative Research Spokesman, commented:
"I am concerned about the impact of the Commission's latest proposals on existing research programmes. I also share anxiety about the defence implications, not just on political grounds but also because of lack of additional funding for this purpose.
"We in the UK need to support our own space and defence industries. Those behind Galileo need to recognise that the world does not revolve around the EU. If collaborative ventures are required there are other more attractive possibilities."