But it seems that years beghind schedule and billons over budget the magnifico euro project that is Galileo is lumbering into view,
''This is one of the EU's largest commercial ventures, so it has to work – otherwise the European Commission's credibility on project management could be called into question,''says one Danuial Fiott of the Madariaga-College of Europe Foundation. And the whole sentence just falls apart.
It should have been commercial, but of course it isn't, after all as the article makes clear,
In 2007, the project appeared to hit a brick wall when the public-private partnership set up to fund the construction of the satellites collapsed. After tense negotiations, member states agreed to finance Galileo entirely from the public purse and the commission even moved unused funds from its agriculture budget to cover the shortfall.Better still even the vast sums of money already poured down its gills has not been enough,
To rub salt into the project's wounds, the commission has announced that an extra €1.9bn will be needed to see it through to completion. The total cost to European taxpayers, originally estimated at €3bn, now hovers around the €5.4bn mark – plus running costs of €800m a year.But never you fear, cost, delay and downright pointlessness have never been a problem when the amour propre of the EU is concerned,
Fiona Hall MEP is a member of the industry, research and energy committee in the European Parliament. She admits she has been frustrated by Galileo's slow progress: ''The problems go back to the public-private partnership and I hope that lessons are learned from that. We are where we are though, and we do have to draw a line – either we ditch it all together or we make it work, even if it needs more money. There's a lot of business to be gained from Galileo so we shouldn't just regard it as money going out. But it has to be managed a thousand times better than before.''I note that the lesson she draws is that trying to ensure it is commercially viable at the start is the problem, and when the private sector looked at the underlying fundamentals it ran a mile. So we continue chucking cash at it in the hope that it will be able to compete with the US, the Chinese, the Russians and even the Indians. But at what point do we stop pouring good money after bad? 6 billion? 8 billion? 10 billion?
You know what Mr Fiott, I think that the EU's project management capability has been under question for many, many years.