It appears that the faintest glimmer of hope that common sense may prevail has finally been extinguished over the ill-starred Galileo project, with the news that EU member states have decided that the opportunity to piss several billion euros up the wall, on what is essentially a vanity project, was too good to pass up on.
it's free, it works
it's free, it works
Last minute hopes that sanity may have prevailed with rumours that the Spanish had major objections quickly evaporated when it transpired, unsurprisingly, that these objections were not rooted in a principled disagreement with the fundamental wastefulness of the project, but rather rested on a demand that more of the money be wasted in Spain. In any case, in the shape of things to come Spain, a EU state of some size, was simply outvoted and ignored, until some face saving compromise could be agreed.
With the deal secured, the need to maintain the party line on the very questionable real world benefits of funding another new global positioning system from the taxpayers pockets (private enterprise having lost interest long ago) could finally be dispensed with:
...[EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot] pointed out that once up and running, Galileo will "ensure the economic and strategic independence" of the EU, as "special navigation is an indication of power" on the world stage.
Yes, as it always was intended, we have to fork out at least €3.4 billion for something that is indeed nothing more than a dick length extension for our lords and masters.
Even the figure of €3.4 billion should ring alarm bells, not because it seems horribly large, but in a sense it seems far small. Considering the research and development still to do, the size of the constellation of satellites required, and the well known eye watering costs of space projects it seems completely and utterly unrealistic. I can't help but suspect the number is more related to the amount in the pot, from underspend on agriculture and administrative budgets, the 'politically acceptable' amount.
Naturally though, the 3.4 billion is enough in one sense. Once it has been expended the 'in for a penny, in for a pound arguments' can be deployed and more money can be squeezed from the taxpayer to see the dreams of EU leaders, if not those of any sane EU taxpayer, realised.
Anyway...the Commission says €3.4 billion, delivery in 2013, so I'll start the sweepstake. I'm going for €8.5 billion and I think that 2016 will be the year we will rush to buy Navstar GPS receivers before some form of compulsion comes in to use the EU alternative when it goes live in 2017.