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Falklands caught in the post Brexit Galileo space controversy

Thursday, May 10th 2018 - 07:28 UTC
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Michael Barnier, Brussels chief Brexit negotiator, triggered the controversy when he argued UK companies should be excluded from the Galileo project Michael Barnier, Brussels chief Brexit negotiator, triggered the controversy when he argued UK companies should be excluded from the Galileo project

United Kingdom ministers are unilaterally considering stopping EU access to the Galileo satellite earth station in the Falklands and Ascension, according to reports in the UK press. The move comes after Brussels chief Brexit negotiator, Michael Barnier, stated that UK companies would have to be excluded from the development of sensitive Galileo infrastructure following Brexit due to security concerns.

 Asked whether any approach had been made to Falkland Islands Government, FIG, regarding restriction of access to the earth station, which sits on FIDC land, Gilbert House did not immediately provide a comment.

Raising the matter in a Commons debate, Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynsky asked, “post Brexit, if the European Union restricts access to the Galileo satellite project, will the Minister undertake for us to restrict its access to the communications infrastructure of the Falklands and Ascension Island?”

Responding to the question, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Sam Gyimah, did not enter into detail: “The Government has been clear that we are unconditionally committed to European security and want to continue working together to develop defense and space capabilities. We feel that the Commission’s approach runs counter to what has been agreed as part of article 50, where a shared intent was agreed for strong UK-EU co-operation on defense in the future,” he said.

The threat is one in a series of options being explored by London in response to the statement from Brussels. Other options include developing a separate satellite system to rival the €10bn Galileo project, and vetoing the next batch of procurement, which has to be agreed by all members of the European Space Agency. (Penguin News)

Top Comments

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  • gordo1

    If the EU excludes the UK then the UK should retaliate with the proposal to exclude the EU from the Falkland Islands.

    May 10th, 2018 - 04:13 pm +1
  • Conqueror

    @GALlamosa. That's a curious statement. The UK is responsible for the defence and foreign relations of the falkland Islands. Therefore, there are several considerations. Who would operate an EU earth station? Would they be EU nationals? Would they act for or against UK, and therefore Falkland Islands', interests? Without UK input and oversight, could the system assist in tracking British aircraft and/or vessels? Taking an example from 80 years ago, would it have been reasonable to allow nazi Germany to place a radar station on the Isle of Wight so that it could radio warnings to approaching hostile aircraft that they could be seen by the British Chainhome radar stations? Would it have been acceptable for German nazis to be on the Isle of Wight to operate the German station? I think not. No doubt the matter will be dealt with pragmatically between the British government and the FIG. I cannot imagine that the FIG would not be aware of the dangers and issues. Remembering, of course, that the Falkland Islands are a British Overseas Territory. It may be worth recalling that, in 2009, when Britain recognised that the Turks and Caicos Islands were being improperly governed, Britain resumed direct rule.That situation continued until 2012. Moreover, there is the question of how the Islands would cope with foreign relations and defence if the UK pulled out? Demolishing the naval harbour facilities and blowing large holes in the runway as it left.

    May 10th, 2018 - 05:41 pm +1
  • GALlamosa

    To be clear, UK Ministers have no right to determine who does and who does not visit the Falkland Islands. Immigration permissions are exclusively a matter for the Falkland Islands Government. FI Assembly Members will take appropriate decisions based on the facts presented.

    May 10th, 2018 - 04:33 pm 0
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