Barnier: UK cannot participate in Galileo programmes post-Brexit

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has again insisted that the UK will have restricted access to the Galileo space programme after it leaves the bloc.

Michel Barnier | Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

29 May 2018

The UK wants to remain a major player in the project, with privileged ongoing access from outside the EU but, for the EU, the decision to leave inevitably entails relegation to a different role.

In a speech in Brussels, Barnier said the issue had provoked “many misunderstandings”, but warned, “The UK decided unilaterally and autonomously to withdraw from the EU. This implies leaving its programmes as well. We need to put the cooperation on Galileo between the EU and the UK on a new basis.”

The former European Commissioner added, “In doing so, our responsibility is to maintain the autonomy of the EU and to protect our essential security interests. The EU’s rules on Galileo have been in place for a long time, and are well known to the UK.


“In particular, third countries (and their companies) cannot participate in the development of security sensitive matters.

“Those rules were adopted together by unanimity with the UK as a member, and they have not changed.”

Focusing on the foreign, defence and security aspects of Brexit, Barnier said any final deal “should take into account the geopolitical challenges of tomorrow.

“This is the spirit in which we will prepare, for October, the political declaration on the framework for the future relationship - provided that the Withdrawal Agreement is finalised.”

The Frenchman added, “We are not there yet. If you look at the draft Withdrawal Agreement, 75 per cent of it is in green. This is a good point. The last 25 per cent - which includes the Irish and Northern Ireland case - are very serious. We are not there yet, but are now working on this future framework, which must be ambitious.”

Meanwhile, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in an unrelated meeting with Barnier in Brussels on Monday, has demanded Britain stay in the customs union and single market after it leaves the EU.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said that Brexit means leaving both, but the SNP leader said that position was “unsustainable”.

Sturgeon, speaking after the meeting, accused the UK government of “floundering around” in its bid to secure a deal, adding, “With every week that passes without the UK being clear and focused and realistic about what it wants to achieve, that prospect of a damaging no deal seems to me to get greater and that’s in nobody’s interest.” 

Speaking on Sunday before her meeting with Barnier, Sturgeon said, “Once we get some clarity, which hopefully we will in autumn of this year, about the Brexit outcome and the future relationship between the UK and the EU, then I will consider again the question of the timing of an independence referendum.” 

Sturgeon added that the SNP would not block a popular vote on the final Brexit deal but warned that the outcome could be different in other parts of the country.


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