Dec 10, 2010 – Brussels – The Czech Republic is to host the headquarters of the European Union’s planned Galileo satellite navigation (satnav) system, EU member states agreed on Friday.
The system is meant to give the EU its own worldwide navigation system, similar to the US GPS and Russia’s GLONASS. EU officials see it as a crucial boost to the bloc’s high technology industries.
EU ministers at a meeting in Brussels agreed to let the Czech Republic host the headquarters of the system after they rejected a rival bid from the Netherlands, diplomats at the meeting said.
Galileo is due to begin basic operations in 2014, and ultimately to offer 32 satellites covering the globe.
The EU has already agreed with Norway that it will be allowed to build base stations on the Arctic island of Svalbard and in Norway’s Antarctic territories.
However, a number of member states presented rival claims for the right to host the system’s headquarters, seen as a prestigious and potentially lucrative possibility.
The Czech bid eventually trumped the Dutch one as EU states agreed to stick to a promise made after the enlargement of the bloc in 2004 that new members would be first in line to host new EU offices and management agencies.