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Document 52010DC0308

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Action Plan on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Applications SEC(2010)716 SEC(2010)717

/* COM/2010/0308 final */

In force


Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Action Plan on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Applications SEC(2010)716 SEC(2010)717 /* COM/2010/0308 final */


Brussels, 14.6.2010

COM(2010)308 final


Action Plan on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Applications

SEC(2010)716 SEC(2010)717


Action Plan on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Applications


EGNOS is there, let’s use it!

EGNOS[1], the European satellite-based augmentation system that paves the way for GALILEO, has been in service since 1 October 2009. Six months before, on behalf of the EU, the Commission took over from the European Space Agency (ESA) ownership of the system. With its three geostationary satellites and 40 ground stations spread over Europe and North Africa, EGNOS supplements the Global Positioning System (GPS), to which the US provided access for civilian use, with no guarantee of service, back in 2000.

The European Green Paper consultation on GNSS applications of 2006 confirmed the wide range of potential GNSS application domains in Europe making use of the positioning, velocity and timing capabilities offered by GNSS.

EGNOS offers free enhanced satellite navigation signals over Europe which are ten times more precise than GPS. All application domains which use positioning and velocity information can benefit from this improved accuracy: all transport modes through the management of infrastructure and the provision of geo-localised information, logistics, precision agriculture, civil protection and emergency management, mapping and land registry, fisheries, energy, management of natural resources, mining, Earth sciences, meteorology, the modelling of climate change, environment, justice and law enforcement, border control, etc.

Another advantage EGNOS can offer civilian users is integrity, i.e. a measure of the trust which can be placed in the correctness of the information supplied by the system, with the user being automatically alerted whenever an error made by the system is beyond a certain confidence limit. Integrity plays an important role in Safety of Life applications in transport (all modes of transport, airport management, automatic vehicles), sensitive commercial applications (high-precision oil platform location, logistics, transport of dangerous goods), or liability-critical applications needing legal recourse (reconstruction of road accidents, road user charging, synchronisation of electrical or telecommunication networks).

Europe must take its share of the global GNSS downstream market

Together with the GPS signal, EGNOS today, and later GALILEO, strengthens the infrastructure leading to a global market for GNSS products and services, called downstream GNSS applications. In 2008, this was worth € 124 bn.

The market is founded primarily on basic positioning and timing signals, but is expected to benefit from the planned introduction of authentication and encryption of signals. Experts predict that, in volume, 75 % (52% in revenues) of this market will come from products and services linked to mobile telecommunications and personal handsets, with a further 20 % (44% in revenues) from intelligent transport systems for road and the remaining 5 % (4% in revenues)from other domains of application.

Despite Europe’s investment in its GNSS infrastructure and the availability of EGNOS, European industry has only a low share of the global GNSS applications market compared with what it is capable of achieving in other sectors of high-technology (a good third). This is a problem since:

- Applications based on EGNOS and subsequently on GALILEO would make a decisive contribution to the development of a knowledge-based society and the creation of high-value jobs in the EU. Europe will therefore be missing a huge opportunity if it does not take an appropriate share of the economic benefit expected from GNSS applications. Also, if GALILEO and EGNOS do not become the underlying GNSS standard in Europe, many application domains may remain shackled with technologies which prevent them from benefiting from the added-value of new advanced services.

- The limited use of applications based on EGNOS and GALILEO leads to critical dependencies as GNSS are very pervasive, providing vital position, navigation, and timing information for a whole range of daily-life activities and for Europe’s security and social and economic development. By relying only on GPS-based applications, the EU would be exposed to the potential non-availability of the GPS signal, which is beyond the EU's control since its primary objective is to support the military operations of a third country.

In the same way as the Internet, the pervasiveness of GNSS services is huge. The most recent and conservative estimates of the overall benefits of EU GNSS programmes to EU industry, citizens and Member States are put at between € 55 and € 63 bn over the next 20 years, with most important benefits arising from indirect revenues in the downstream industry (between € 37 bn and € 45 bn). As a consequence, the low uptake of applications based on EU GNSS is a problem that affects European society in general, and in many ways[2].

Meanwhile, uncertainty surrounding the European GNSS has been affecting confidence in potential downstream business. Growing ‘competition’ from third countries (US, Russia, China, India, Japan, which have recognised the strategic value of GNSS and declared their intention of deploying GNSS capabilities for civilian use, including the development by their industry of applications based on their own system) has also changed the context for the development of GNSS applications to the detriment of European players, as these systems could enter into operation at about the same time as GALILEO.

So given the new reality of EU GNSS programmes, a detailed action plan is called for: to boost people's confidence in the programmes, to foster the development of EGNOS and GALILEO downstream applications, and to achieve the quickest, deepest, broadest development of applications across all domains so to reap maximum benefit from the EU’s infrastructure.


The potential benefit of GNSS applications spans several policy fields which are coordinated at EU level, including the EU2020 strategy and its EU flagship initiative ‘An industrial policy for the globalisation era’, transport safety, the environment, and Common Agriculture Policy enforcement. And since the adoption of EU GNSS often requires compliance with international norms or certification at European level, EU action is needed to avoid duplication and wasted effort at Member State level.

Maintaining the status quo and taking no EU action would result in fragmented or uncoordinated action by Member States and would maintain the current low level of applications uptake based on EU GNSS, limit the effectiveness of novel applications, create barriers to the free movement of goods and services, and bring about unequal treatment for European citizens.

Because the Commission is managing GALILEO and EGNOS on behalf of the EU, it has to ensure the best return on investment on these programmes. Also, the Commission will mobilise R&D funds stemming from EU research programmes...

Proposals for EU action have therefore been collected through an extensive consultation exercise, starting with the above-mentioned 2006 Green Paper on the applications of satellite navigation. Several market studies and cost-benefit analyses have been conducted by the Commission and other European stakeholders, including some Member States. Also, new ideas have been triggered through calls for research proposals under the European Union 6th and 7th Framework Programmes for R&D or calls for ideas, such as the ‘GALILEO Masters’.

The number of domains where applications can be developed is huge, but budget constraints mean that Commission action needs to be focused on a limited number of topics where its influence is greatest. Other avenues of approach are left to other players and to market forces. In addition to these priority domains, the Commission proposes to enhance innovation across domains with ‘horizontal’ action to improve EU GNSS pervasiveness more generally.


Of the possible application domains spelled out above, priority has been given to domains where GNSS applications can do most in terms of:

- contribution to EU objectives (growth, jobs, knowledge society);

- indirect economic (including energy consumption) and social benefits;

- positive influence on emissions and other types of pollution;

- positive influence on the operation of the single market and cross-border trade;

- positive influence on the interoperability of applications;

- linkage with interests arising from consultations and calls for ideas and business cases;

- influence of European Commission and Member States' authorities;

- timing constraints and opportunities (with EGNOS available now, GALILEO In-Orbit Validation (IOV) soon, GALILEO Full Operational Capability (FOC) only later);

- specific added-value arising from the competitive advantages of EGNOS and GALILEO services: authentication, integrity, high accuracy for positioning, navigation and timing.

This process has led to focusing the action plan, for the period up to 2013[3], on the domains that are shaded darker (cf. figure 1): applications for individual handsets and mobile phones; road transport; aviation; maritime transport and fisheries; precision agriculture and environment protection; civil protection and surveillance.

GNSS R&D FINANCIAL NEEDS | 80 | 100 | 100 | 100 | 100 | 400 | 480 |

Allocated in the FP7 for GNSS end-user segment R&D | 65 | 0 | 38 | 0 | 0 | 38 | 103 |

Allocated in the FP7 for GNSS technology R&D | 15 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 15 |

Figure 2: GNSS R&D financial needs

If the EU and Member States do not act, the market will be taken over by foreign industries that have benefited from military expenditure to establish their base, build critical strength and acquire dominant positions. The issue is not just economic: once Europe has established its independent GNSS infrastructure, it needs to maintain independence in terms of applications too: positioning and timing information are resources of extreme pervasiveness; more than 6 % of the whole GDP of the European Union relies on it.


This Action Plan will be updated regularly, as in a rolling programme: its objectives extend beyond 2020, but the current set of actions focuses on 2010-2013. A first review of the current proposal may come after the exploitation plan for the GALILEO post-2013 period has been adopted, as each action may be affected by the features of the forthcoming services, especially in terms of start-up timing, pricing policies, liability and intellectual property.

Adjustments may also be needed when decisions are taken on the further funding for research on applications, or on extending the EGNOS infrastructure to regions beyond Europe. Whilst the current plan emphasises EGNOS applications, further versions will progressively shift priorities towards GALILEO applications. A macro-econometric model and tool will also be developed to monitor the impact of the plan, with a view to feeding information back into this review process.

The proposed action will be taken by the European Commission and its related Agencies, and will involve national and regional authorities in the Members States, and other stakeholders as needed.

[1] EGNOS: European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service

[2] The issue of the direct income potentially generated by the European GNSS will not be addressed in this Communication; nor will actions specifically related to the Public Regulated Service (PRS), for which the access is restricted to the authorities of the Member States. Both issues will be addressed in separate documents.

[3] The European Commission will continue to monitor the market, and to assess the impact of action with a view to adapting priority domains whenever the action plan is updated.

[4] ATM: Air Traffic Management

[5] Directive 2004/52/EC of 29 April 2004 on the interoperability of electronic road toll systems in the Community.

[6] Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations and amending Directives 64/432/EEC and 93/119/EC and Regulation (EC) No 1255/97.

[7] COM(2008) 886.

[8] COM(2008) 887.

[9] COM(2007) 607.

[10] UNECE : United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

[11] OTIF : Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail

[12] OJ L 108, 25.4.2007, p. 1–14

[13] GEOSS: Global Earth Observation System of Systems

[14] FP7 funding to R&D for the end-user segment (applications, standardisation and certification, receivers, related international projects, mission evolution,) reached ¬ 27 mio in 2007, ¬ 40 mio in 2r segment (applications, standardisation and certification, receivers, related international projects, mission evolution,) reached €27 mio in 2007, €40 mio in 2008 and €38 mio in 2011. That represents an average of € 15 mio per year over the 2007-2013 period. In addition to that, 15M€ were dedicated to GNSS technology R&D in 2007 from FP7.

[15] Over the duration of FP7, €8.3 billion have been earmarked for ICT (€1.2 billion in average per year), for an EU turnover worth €680 billion in 2009. To compare to a €15 million EU GNSS end-user segment R&D funding in average per year, contributing to a €25 billion turnover.

[16] OJ L 412, 30.12.2006, p. 1.