Switzerland has signed a cooperation agreement to participate in the Galileo and EGNOS programs, the pillars of the EU’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Switzerland will now fully financially participate in the programs, and will retroactively contribute €80 million for the period 2008-2013.
The agreement, signed in Brussels December 18, 2013, also covers cooperation in areas such as security, export control, standards, certification and industrial cooperation.
The Swiss government is not a member of the European Union, but does hold membership in the European Space Agency (ESA). Norway, another ESA member who is not a member of the EU, signed a similar agreement with the commission in 2010.
Swiss authorities will pay an annual Galileo fee of €27 million to the commission for access to Galileo services, but access to the Public Regulated Service (PRS) signals is still being negotiated. PRS signals will be restricted to authorized users by governments for sensitive applications that require a high level of continuity.
“I welcome Switzerland’s decision to fully step on board the European space programme,” said European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani. “This co-operation will not only help to provide better results for the EU’s satellite navigation services, it will also open up a series of business opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises both from Switzerland and the EU.”
Through its membership of the European Space Agency (ESA), Switzerland has contributed to Galileo’s development phase. For example, the state-of-the-art hydrogen-maser clocks used by the Galileo satellites originate from Switzerland. Such extremely accurate clocks are crucial to a number of sectors. Wireless telecommunication networks use Galileo satellites’ timing signal for network management, for time tagging and for synchronization of frequency references. Certified time stamps are also necessary for applications such as electronic banking, e-commerce, stock transactions, quality assurance systems and services.
With the signing of this agreement Switzerland will now participate in the EU satellite navigation programs and in their committees and working groups.
Studies show that Galileo will deliver around €90 billion to the EU economy over the first 20 years of operation, while from now until 2020, the EU will spend €7 billion on satellite navigation. Switzerland’s financial contribution for the period 2014-2020 will be calculated in accordance with the standard formula1 applied for the Swiss participation in the EU research Framework Programme.