In this weekly report, which considers the UK’s future involvement in the EU space programmes, the European Scrutiny Committee concludes that the UK could be excluded from accessing the Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) during the implementation period under agreed text in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
Access to Galileo Public Regulated Service
The European Scrutiny Committee concludes that agreed text(1) in the draft Withdrawal Agreement(2) would permit the EU to exclude the UK from accessing the Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) during the implementation period, and to exclude UK industry from participating in the delivery of the PRS during the same period. To do so, the EU would merely have to notify the UK Government that it was exercising a derogation in the agreement.
However, the report notes that the relevant EU Decision(3) which sets out the terms governing third country access to the PRS shows that continued UK access is possible, subject to the conclusion of two agreements, including one on security. This Decision potentially also allows businesses in third countries to retain involvement in the production of receivers for the Galileo PRS, but excludes their involvement in the most sensitive security-related aspects of the service.
Possible termination of UK involvement would disrupt PRS rollout
The Committee deems it unlikely that the UK will be excluded from accessing the PRS in the long-term, because it is in the EU’s strategic and commercial interests to grant access to its NATO partners. Terminating the involvement of UK industry in the space programmes would also disrupt the rollout of the PRS service, cause further delays, and potentially have a detrimental impact on European security, which both parties to the negotiation wish to protect.
Other topics considered in this report
The report also considers:
- The relocation of the back-up monitoring centre for the Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) from the UK to Spain(4), in compliance with the programme's security requirements;
- The difficulties UK businesses are currently encountering bidding for work on the EU space programmes in the absence of a clear legal basis for continued participation in the EU space programmes post-2020; and
- The limited extent to which non-participation in the EU will cost the UK access to the wider range services provided by the EU space programmes.
The Committee has retained the proposal under scrutiny and asked the Government a series of question about these issues.
- Article 122 (7b) of the draft Withdrawal Agreement states that the UK can be excluded from programmes which "grant access to security related sensitive information that only Member States (or nationals of Member States, or natural or legal persons residing or established in a Member State) are to have knowledge of”. This text was highlighted in green, meaning, as explained at the top of the document, that it was "agreed at negotiators' level" and would "only be subject to technical legal revisions in the coming weeks".
- HM Government, Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (19 March 2018).
- Decision 1104/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the rules for access to the public regulated service provided by the global navigation satellite system established under the Galileo programme.
- Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2018/155 of 24 January 2018 amending, as regards the location of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre, Implementing Decision (EU) 2016/413.