Law, College of


Date of this Version



Published in the Proceedings of the 46th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space (2003): 360-370. IAC-03-IISL.4.10. Copyright 2003, Frans von der Dunk. Used by permission.


With the decision early 2002 to develop Galileo, the second generation European GNSS-system, and to have it fully operational by 2008, the member states of the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have taken a large step forward. The question "Quo vadis, Galileo?' has therefore, by and large, been answered - 'Into orbit!' However, many legal parameters for the future system have yet to be defined; amongst those one of the most important is the definition and establishment of the institutional structure which should bring Galileo there and make sure it remains there, in a safe, sensible and operational manner. In other words: 'Quis vadit cum vobis, Galileo?' - 'Who goes (there) with you?'

The paper will present a brief overview of the issues involved in determining and developing the future institutional structure of Galileo, starting with the current Galileo Interim Support Structure (GISS) and the Joint Undertaking (JU) which will be its successor. This will lead into the issue of the prospective public supervisor and private operator which are supposed to be at the core of that institutional structure, tied together by a Concession Agreement-type of arrangement.

In reflecting upon the various issues, attention will be paid to an interesting precedent from the satellite sector, i.e. the privatisation of INMARSAT and its transformation into Inmarsat. Other issues to be touched upon in this light concern the possibilities for non-EU and non-ESA member states to join the Galileo core institutional structure, the need for coordination and interoperability with GPS and GLONASS (and possible other systems), issues of negotiation with non-European states, and dealing with liability issues.