Lost in Space – Total outage of EU’s GPS system for last five days continues

Astronomical delays, rocketing costs, and now the EU is lost without the US GPS system

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org

A microcosmic example of the EU, courtesy of Brexit Facts4EU.Org

The EU’s £17.5 billion Global Navigation Satellite System (the EU’s equivalent of GPS, named Galileo) crashed on Thursday afternoon, 11 July 2019. All of its satellites have been out of service since then, meaning a total loss of service for the last five days. At the time of writing the system is still down.

Brexit Facts4EU.org Summary

The EU's SatNav system - Galileo

  • So far the Galileo Project has taken 25 years from initiation in 1994
  • This EU taxpayer-funded SatNav system is still only 73% complete
  • The original deadline for completion passed 12 years ago
  • The budget has rocketed to 7 times the original figure, now £17.5bn
  • It’s now equivalent to half the entire annual GDP for EU member state Estonia
  • The project is not projected to complete until 2020
  • This means 26 years in the making and 13 years after the original deadline

The impact of this

Users including the emergency services have been unable to access the system at all for the past five days. Here is what the EU’s agency wrote about this eventuality, when they were justifying the reason to have the EU’s own GPS system :-

“Just think what would happen if GNSS [GPS] signals were suddenly switched off. Truck and taxi drivers, ship and aircraft crews and millions of people around the world would suddenly be lost. Furthermore, financial and communication activities, public utilities, security and humanitarian operations and emergency services would all come to a standstill.

- ‘European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency’ website, accessed 16 July 2019

What the EU Commission has said about this

Bizarrely, the EU Commission has made no mention of this total failure of one of its flagship projects on its press release website. Instead they left it to one of their agencies: the ‘European Space Agency’, based in Prague.

On Thursday the European Space Agency announced in a Notice Advisory to Galileo Users (NAGU) that :-

“Users may experience service degradation on all Galileo satellites. This means that the signals may not be available nor meet the minimum performance levels.”

This notice was subsequently upgraded a few hours later and they officially put all 22 of their active satellites in the “not usable” category. They then declared :-

“Until further notice, users experience a service outage. The signals are not to be used.”

- European Space Agency, accessed 16 Jul 2019

The EU redefines the term ‘space-time continuum’

The EU’s SatNav system has been beset by astronomical delays and rocketing costs since it first started back in 1994.

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - Click to enlarge

“The European Commission has overall responsibility for the programme, managing and overseeing the implementation of all activities on behalf of the EU.”

- EU Commission website, accessed 16 July 2019

EU excludes UK, despite UK funding

In January 2018 the Commission declared that the UK would not have full access to the system, despite the UK having borne over £1bn of the costs. Nevertheless the UK continues to contribute funds to the programme to this day.

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - Click to enlarge

It’s important to note that the above figures only show capital costs, and exclude the enormous ongoing running costs of the EU’s GPS system.

On 24 January 2018, the EU Commission announced :-

“Today the Commission adopted a decision to transfer the back-up site of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre from the United Kingdom to Spain. The Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (GSMC) is a technical infrastructure which plays a key role in ensuring the security of the EU's satellite navigation programme Galileo, including its Public Regulated Service (PRS). As a consequence of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU, the GSMC's back-up site needs to be relocated.”

EU Commission, 24 Jan 2018

The EU likes to announce things

In December 2016 the EU Commission announced “Galileo goes live!” on its press release website.

Unfortunately, on the same day the Director of the European Space Agency's Galileo programme said :-

“Much work remains to be done. The entire constellation needs to be deployed, the ground infrastructure needs to be completed and the overall system needs to be tested and verified.”

Some may feel that the words of the leading scientist from the EU’s space agency may be a truer representation of the overall project picture than that given by EU Commission, particularly in light of the events of the last five days.


Last year Brexit Facts4EU.Org published the definitive guide to the EU’s Galileo SatNav system, comprising a 7-part series of reports. These are all available via our ‘Brexit Index’ – the largest searchable repository of Brexit facts in the world, with over 1,100 articles and many thousands of facts.

We pointed out that the EU’s Galileo GPS system was typical of the EU in many ways. Over a year ago we wrote :-

“So, with rocketing costs, astronomically late, and now the subject of another vindictive attack on the UK by the EU Commission, the Galileo project in many ways represents a microcosm of the entire Brexit process so far.”

To that comment we can now add: “And the EU’s system is unusable.”

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[ Sources: EU Commission | EU Legal Docs | European Space Agency | European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency | DExEU | Plus dozens of other official sources as well as information from scientists working on the project ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, 16 Jul 2019

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