Antonio Rodot? claims Galileo, the EU's satellite navigation programme, represents a new phase in European space development, as for the first time the EU has come together to build a "unique infrastructure for the benefit of all Europeans". He contrasted the project with Europe's railway infrastructure, which is common to the whole of Europe but owned by individual nations. Asked what his message would be to those Member States that are holding up the Galileo project through their reluctance to commit to funding, Mr Rodot? compared the investment needed for the project with that poured into Europe's road infrastructure. "How many kilometres of highway is Galileo?" he asked. "Not very many".Mr Rodot? insisted the benefits of Galileo would not be restricted to financial profits, explaining that while "the real revenues of Galileo may not be very large", it will bring huge savings in key areas of Europe's infrastructure such as air traffic control. Although some MEPs have called for a withdrawal of the private sector from the joint undertaking which will head development of the initiative, Mr Rodot? said the priority must be to get the project off the ground. "I'm open to any solution", he said, adding that a balance must be found between public and private interests. He conceded that more time is needed to address the political considerations linked to the Galileo project.Mr Rodot? believes greater operational and institutional co-operation between ESA and the European Commission will benefit European citizens by strengthening focus on services provided by space applications. He highlighted the collaborative ESA-Commission GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) project, which he said will bring a "better life" to the people of Europe. The initiative will create potential for a number of additional services such as providing information to farmers on crop growth and fertiliser use to enable them to handle their territory in a more efficient way.Closer ties with the Commission are also likely to lead to a boost in funding for ESA. Funding in this area has increased over...

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