June 6, 2018 / 5:11 PM / a year ago

EU 'shooting itself in the foot' over Galileo - Davis

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said the European Commission was “shooting itself in the foot” with a plan to restrict UK access to the Galileo satellite navigation system after Brexit.

Technicians react after the successful deployment in orbit of the first two satellites of Europe's Galileo navigation system following the launch of the Russian Soyuz VS01 rocket at the Guiana Space Center in Sinnamary, French Guiana, October 21, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Brexit secretary David Davis said Britain had been instrumental in developing Galileo’s technology, and that shutting it out at this stage would delay the project by up to three years and increase the bill by an extra 1 billion euros (£0.9 billion).

“Put simply, the Commission’s position seems to be shooting itself in the foot to make sure the gun works,” he said in a speech in London.

A row over Galileo became a flashpoint in Brexit negotiations last month after London accused the EU of shutting British businesses out of the project before Britain’s exit in a year’s time.

A senior EU official has said the bloc was keen to go on working with Britain on Galileo after Brexit but under new rules, including those preventing third countries obtaining access to critical security information.

Davis said the issue of future cooperation was not isolated to Galileo, pointing to the European Defence Fund as another project where British industry had already made an meaningful contribution.

He said Britain wanted a “comprehensive deep partnership with the European Union on a whole range of matters that impacted on security”.

In approaching the trade-offs of Brexit, he said, Britain had “decided that Europe’s safety was far too important to be negotiated away”.

Davis said the two sides must work together quickly to avoid any gap in operational capability after Britain leaves the European Union, adding that the British government would respect the remit of the European Court of Justice when co-operating with EU agencies in security matters.

However, he had a warning for those who he said held the view that Britain should be punished for voting to leave the European Union.

“Getting a deal that reflects the deep economic ties that both the United Kingdom and the European Union benefit from is vitally important for both of our economies,” he said.

“So those who say, or think, that the UK must be seen to be damaged by Brexit, should think again.

“Because the truth is, if you harm Britain, you harm all of Europe.”

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Stephen Addison

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