Wednesday, 19 January 2011

German business executive suspended for telling truth about Galileo

Telling the truth is not popular within the EU:

BERLIN — The chief executive of the largest satellite company in Germany was suspended on Tuesday for telling American diplomats that the Galileo satellite project in Europe was redundant, cost-inefficient and designed to benefit French business interests, according to cables published by WikiLeaks.
Berry Smutny, the chief executive of OHB-System, was suspended after a Norwegian newspaper, Aftenposten, last Thursday published excerpts obtained from WikiLeaks of his meeting with American diplomats in Berlin on Oct. 2.
Galileo, the seven-year-old program aimed at building a system of 30 orbiting civilian satellites for Europe by 2014, is “a stupid idea” that will only replicate what GPS satellites already provide, Mr. Smutny is said to have told the diplomats. He added that Galileo was “a waste of E.U. taxpayers’ money championed by French interests.”
Galileo is a 3.4 billion euro (or $4.5 billion) project conceived as Europe’s answer to the United States’ system of navigation satellites. (The European Commission said on Tuesday that the program would need an additional 1.9 billion euros to become operational, Reuters reported from Brussels.)

Read the entire NYT story here.

That Galileo is both stupid and expensive (especially for European tax payers) has been obvious already for many years. And the 1,9 billion will not be enough according to Richard North at the EU Referendum blog, which has covered the Galileo project already since 2003:

This was a project that the commission originally told us would cost €1.1 billion of public money. It then gave a solemn guarantee in the year 2000 that no public subsidy would be needed after 2007, when the system was supposed to be up and running. Four years down the line from then and it is nowhere near - the latest fiction is 2014 ... in your dreams.

At the time, of course, the commission was hoping for €2.5 billion of private investment, but when that arrangement fell through (largely because of the totally unrealistic projections for cost recovery), the whole of the development costs were dumped on European taxpayers. The British have paid a substantial share – probably in the order of about £1 billion so far, over and above normal contributions - although it is difficult to be exact. The euroslime, as always, cook the books.

To ask merely for another €1.9 billion, though, is to perpetuate the lie. In January 2008 a secret report leaked from
the German government, long before Wikileaks was in business, estimated the total development and deployment cost could rise to €10 billion. But, given that the US is having to pay about €5 billion just to upgrade its GPS system – which has long been in operation – even €10 billion looks wildly optimistic.

Smutny himself told US officials that in his opinion the final cost would balloon to around €10 billion, yet the commission is still playing its dire game of underestimating the total cost.  The strategy is then to come back for more, in dribs and drabs, applying moral blackmail at each stage.

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