Madrid wins bid to takeover Galileo support centre from UK post-Brexit

Spain has won its bid to host the Galileo satnav monitoring system after the EU decided to relocate the centre from the UK following Brexit.

Madrid wins bid to takeover Galileo support centre from UK post-Brexit
Photo: European Space Agency (ESA)

The UK had won the contract, in 2010, to provide the centre for EU’s advanced GPS satellite system but the European Commission decided the centre must be relocated to remain in the EU once Britain leaves.

The Galileo system went live last year and will eventually involve 30 satellites but the new base for the Galileo Security Surveillance Centre will be fully operation from Madrid by April 2019.

“Today the committee of the member states’ representatives met and we can confirm that the committee voted in favour, by a large majority, of our commission proposal to relocate the centre to Spain,” a spokesperson for the European commission told reporters in Brussels on Thursday.

The committee of 27 member states – excluding the UK – voted almost unanimously to move the Galileo satellite centre to Madrid, but the decision will not be made official until next week.

The centre will provide back up to the Galileo system, supporting the primary hub in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris.

The system  is designed to provide highly accurate global positioning information for phones, cars, maritime, air, rail and emergency services and was created so the EU had its own technology, and would not be forced to rely on the system provided by the US military. 

The Spanish government hopes the centre, which will cost about €4 million to build, will support up to 100 direct jobs.

It will be located in San Martín de la Vega, on an industrial estate 35km southwest of the capital.

Cristina Cifuentes, president of the Madrid regional government speaking ahead of the news that Spain’s bid had been successful said “It would be great news , consolidating Madrid as a leader in technology.”

This is the third European agency confirmed to leave the UK as a result of Brexit.

The European Banking Authority (EBA) is due to move to Amsterdam in early 2019 and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will transfer to Paris.



BREXIT: Spain and EU suggest removing Gibraltar border

Madrid and Brussels have approached the British government with a proposal for removing the border fence between Spain and Gibraltar in order to ease freedom of movement, Spain's top diplomat said Friday.

BREXIT: Spain and EU suggest removing Gibraltar border

“The text presented to the United Kingdom is a comprehensive proposal that includes provisions on mobility with the aim of removing the border fence and guaranteeing freedom of movement,” Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said, according to a ministry statement.

Such a move would make Spain, as representative of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone, “responsible for controlling Gibraltar’s external borders”, it said.

The Schengen Area allows people to move freely across the internal borders of 26 member states, four of which are not part of the EU.

There was no immediate response from London.

A tiny British enclave at Spain’s southern tip, Gibraltar’s economy provides a lifeline for some 15,000 people who cross in and out to work every day.

Most are Spanish and live in the impoverished neighbouring city of La Línea.

Although Brexit threw Gibraltar’s future into question, raising fears it would create a new “hard border” with the EU, negotiators reached a landmark deal for it to benefit from the rules of the Schengen zone just hours before Britain’s departure on January 1, 2021.

Details of the agreement have yet to be settled.

With a land area of just 6.8 square kilometres (2.6 square miles), Gibraltar is entirely dependent on imports to supply its 34,000 residents and the deal was crucial to avoid slowing cross-border goods trade with new customs procedures.

Albares said the proposal would mean Madrid “taking on a monitoring and protection role on behalf of the EU with regards to the internal market with the removal of the customs border control” between Spain and Gibraltar.

The deal would “guarantee the free movement of goods between the EU and Gibraltar” while guaranteeing respect for fair competition, meaning businesses in the enclave would “compete under similar conditions to those of other EU operators, notably those in the surrounding area”.

Although Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713, Madrid has long wanted it back in a thorny dispute that has for decades involved pressure on the frontier.

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