BRUSSELS – Spain’s central Madrid region was chosen on Thursday as the new home of the security monitoring center for the European Union’s global navigation satellite system, Galileo, following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the bloc, EU sources told EFE.
In a vote by EU member state representatives at the European Commission, Madrid was selected to host the GSMC’s new facility in support of Galileo’s primary operations in France, once it leaves its current location in the UK after Brexit.
The EC’s chief spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas, confirmed during the institution’s daily press briefing that Spain’s candidacy obtained an “ample majority” of votes.
“GSMC is a technical infrastructure playing a decisive role to ensure overall security of the Galileo SatNav system,” Schinas said.
Spain’s government described it as a strategic opportunity providing high-value technological industrial contracts.
The ministries of defense and foreign affairs both said the move would reinforce Spain’s presence in the EU’s “star” programs.
The Spanish government pointed out it already hosts another prime Galileo facility, the GNSS service center facility, also located in Madrid.
The future GSMC is set to be the technical division responsible for guaranteeing Galileo’s secure satellite telecommunications, supporting the main GSMC headquarters located in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.
The GSMC support center is currently located in the southeastern English village of Swanwick but is due relocate as soon as the ongoing Brexit talks conclude, although Brussels wants the Madrid center fully operational by April.
The outgoing British center, not fully operational yet, has a full-time staff of one; the number of employees is expected to rise once it relocates to Madrid.
According to EC spokesperson Lucía Caudet, estimates provided to the aspiring EU candidacies suggested the new GSMC would be staffed by three to 30 employees.
Madrid’s regional government is set to assume the construction costs for the new center.
Schinas said the call for EU member candidacies began last August and the final decision follows the guidelines stated in the Galileo system’s regulations.
Among the criteria that awarded Madrid its winning vote were the suitability of its proposed technical infrastructure solutions, its security risk identification and management, its acceptance of overall conditions and the comprehensive breakdown of its budgetary estimate.
The decision to relocate the GSMC is set to be officially adopted on Jan. 24.