Britain 'at risk of being shut out of lucrative EU security satellite scheme'
The UK could be shut out of a lucrative EU satellite scheme worth hundreds of millions of pounds in contracts for British firms, according to reports.
The ambitious Galileo “public regulated service” (PRS) project would see EU countries establish an encrypted navigation system – a rival to the US GPS programme – available for government users.
But with Brexit on the horizon the EU is reportedly planning to shut Britain out of the €10bn scheme.
In January the EU Commission wrote to the Government saying that after the UK leaves the EU in 2019 it would be inappropriate to share the system’s highly sensitive information with a non-member state.
An official who had seen the letter, told the Financial Times it stated: “If the commission shared this information with the UK (which will become a third country) it would irretrievably compromise the integrity of certain elements of these systems for many years after the withdrawal of the UK.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson reportedly “hit the roof” on hearing that Britain could be excluded, given Mrs May’s commitment to unconditional security co-operation with the bloc after Brexit.
Another official told the newspaper: “Any suggestion that the UK poses a security risk to the EU or that our collaboration might be against EU interests is not only absurd but also pre-judges negotiations.”
Under current plans, only EU member states will have access to the encrypted PRS system, with the US and Norway currently negotiating access with Brussels.
The next round of long-term PRS contracts are set to be awarded in June.
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