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Galileo satellite navigation system approved by EU

£2.5bn project due for completion in 2013

The European Parliament gave its assent to the creation of the Galileo satellite navigation system on Wednesday, clearing the way for the European Union's most ambitious technology project to date.

Approval by the Parliament was the final political hurdle for the system, which only a year ago faced being abandoned after a consortium of private technology firms backed out.

The European Commission salvaged the project by proposing to take the deployment phase due for completion in 2013 public, a move that will cost European tax payers €3.4bn (£2.5bn).

A majority of the Parliament from across the political spectrum, however, concluded that Galileo is in EU citizens' interests.

"This will be the first infrastructure in Europe that is commonly built and jointly owned," said member of the European Parliament Etelka Barsi-Pataky. "During the political discussions on Galileo, the European Parliament has always strongly suggested that this strategic project should be managed as a political priority."

The Parliament's support for the new shape of the Galileo project will allow private firms to help fund the exploitation phase after 2013. They will be called on to help build the system as contractors, rather than as joint owners as initially planned.

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