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Czechs Sign Agreement to Host Galileo Headquarters

The Czech government signed an agrement January 27 with the European GNSS Agency (GSA) for Prague to host the headquarters of the Galileo system. The signing took place during the Galileo Application Congress Prague 2012.

Paving the way for the Agency’s presence in the Czech Republic, the host agreement was jointly signed by Pavel Dobeš, minister of Transport, and Carlo des Dorides, executive director of the GSA, in the presence of Petr Nečas, prime minister of the Czech Republic and Antonio Tajani, vice president of the European Commission responsible for industry and entrepreneurship. The accord will see the GSA moved to Prague later this year.

The Galileo Applications Congress in Prague drew experts from around Europe and around the world to discuss Galileo and possible services. representatives of the European Union, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the GSA discussed their future roles in Europe's GNSS programmes, Galileo and EGNOS. The event also took place against a backdrop of key changes in how Europe's flagship GNSS programmes are governed.

"This is a good moment to take stock of where we are and where we are going with Galileo," said GSA Executive Director Carlo Des Dorides. "The focus is on the future, with an expanded mission for our Agency. What we can say now is that the future is bright; the market for new GNSS technologies and services, many of which you will hear about during this congress, will continue to grow, in spite of the current difficult economic conditions."

Under the current European Commission proposal for a new GNSS governance arrangement, the GSA would be charged with overseeing security-related activities and the commercialization and exploitation of Galileo and EGNOS services. The commission itself would provide the policy framework and political support, while ESA would handle technology and development. And while some details still need to be clarified, including how the interfaces between these three bodies would operate, most opinions seem to be moving quickly into line with the proposal.

ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said the measure of Galileo's success will not be in the number of satellites placed in orbit but in the quality of its services. "The very existence of the GSA as the service provider is a key to this success," he said. "Working to support the GSA, therefore, will also be ESA's objective, and we are committed to seeing this happen."