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The Galileo PRS, a very reserved service. Its rules adopted

(BRUSSELS2 in Strasbourg) While the first two satellites of Galileo, the European GPS, are due to be launched on October 20, the European Parliament adopted, on Tuesday (*), an important part of the European satellite navigation system for applications the most strategic, I have named: the regulated public service (or PRS). This regulation should be in place by mid-October. While the operational implementation of Galileo is planned in a phased manner from 2014. Galileo offers five distinct services: open, commercial, secure, search and rescue and the public regulated service (PRS).

Special characteristics

The PRS will be offered from 2014 with very special characteristics. Offering strong, encrypted signals, it is suitable for services that “ require solidity and absolute reliability », according to the expectations of this regulation. He is indeed " both the most secure and the most sensitive "and will have to" ensure, for the benefit of its users, continuity of service even in the most serious crisis situations. » In short, sensitive applications such as critical infrastructure protection, police, defense, security and emergency services. Yes… nothing prevents the European GPS, Galileo, from having uses in defense matters. On the contrary. Even if it remains a “ civilian system under civilian control ", that is to say " carried out according to civil standards based on civil requirements and under the control of the Union institutions ».

A very reserved service

The PRS will not be open to everyone. He will be " strictly reserved » to some users. Member States, the Council, the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) will be able to have access to it “on a discretionary and unlimited and uninterrupted basis in all parts of the world”. Each Member State may be in a position to decide independently " which users of the PRS are authorized and what are the resulting uses, including those related to security, in accordance with common minimum standards ". It will then designate a PRS Authority responsible for the management and supervision of all authorized users. The manufacture of receivers will require European authorization, while exports of equipment and technology will be subject to strict requirements.

Terms of use

The regulation makes a clear distinction between participants, such as Member States, the Council, the Commission (as well as EU agencies, third states and international organisations) and users of the PRS, such as businesses, authorities and natural persons authorized by the participants to develop, possess or use the receivers. Users must respect security requirements and apply encryption keys during use.

Regarding pricing, a delicate subject, a compromise solution has been found, the Commission is responsible for " to analyze whether it would be wise to put in place a pricing policy for the PRS, including for third countries and international organisations, and to report to the European Parliament and the Council ».

Agreements with third countries subject to conditions

A third State or an international organization can only become a user of the PRS under three conditions:

  • an information security agreement defining the framework for the exchange and protection of classified information which provides a degree of protection at least equivalent to that of Member States;
  • an agreement establishing the conditions and modalities of access to the PRS by this third State or this international organization. This agreement could notably relate to the manufacture, under certain conditions, of PRS receivers, excluding security modules;
  • compliance with certain conditions. These agreements should be negotiated taking fully into account the importance of respect for democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression and information, the dignity of the human person, the principles of equality and solidarity as well as those enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and international law. »

Download the text in the B2 docs

(*) Report adopted by a large majority: 556 votes for, 71 against and 30 abstentions.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).