How much does it cost to launch your own fleet of satellites to provide accurate navigation data to rental car drivers, airlines and missile commanders alike? If you’re the European Union, quite a lot.

In 2003, the European leaders gave their formal backing to the Galileo programme, a state-of-the-art satellite navigation system created so the EU would not be reliant on the GPS service run by the US Department of Defence or Russia’s Glonass. The cost of Galileo was supposed to be roughly €3.4bn – some of which would be picked up by private investors – and the system was supposed to be operational by 2010.

But, like so many public works projects, Galileo has run behind schedule and over budget. The latest estimates are spelled out in a report to be presented to the European Parliament on Tuesday by Antonio Tajani, the EU’s industry commissioner. Mr Tajani will call for an additional €1.9bn for Galileo infrastructure in the next financial framework, which covers the budgeting period from 2014 through 2020. The report also pegs Galileo’s annual operating costs at a staggering €800m. Read more