chapter  5
26 Pages

Europe Opens Its Eyes: Transatlantic Dispute in the Field of Satellite Navigation The US Global Positioning System: A Strategic Space Asset with a

This chapter investigates the shift of US and European strategies from competition to cooperation in the field of dual-use satellite navigation under changing structural situations. The interaction between Europe and the US in the field of satellite navigation is a crucial case of transatlantic space politics among others in this book. This within-case variation of European and US space strategies offers a good opportunity to evaluate the explanatory strength of competing IR theories for the transatlantic cooperation problem, and to reappraise the theoretical status of the transatlantic order. The Galileo satellite navigation system was the product of European dis-

satisfaction with the services of the US GPS. Europe aimed to achieve political autonomy, improve security management capability, and increase its economic competitiveness in the field of satellite navigation. However, Europe’s long-term dependence on the positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) data of the US GPS frustrated its pursuit of these goals. Furthermore, the GPS services that Europe needed were sometimes interrupted because of satellite malfunction, the US denial of PNT data provision, and signal degradation deliberately introduced by the US DOD unilaterally. As a result, Europe initiated the Galileo satellite navigation program in the late 1990s as an alternative to the unreliable US GPS services. GPS represented important security and economic interests for the US.

The US strongly opposed the European Galileo program due to its impact on US security and economic interests. With regard to US security, GPS was integrated into US modern military capabilities and used in almost all US military operations. The European Galileo system would interfere with the GPS signals, particularly military ones. As a result, the US was worried that the signal interference caused by the European Galileo system might endanger US military operations (Johnson-Freese 2007: 191-2). Moreover, the US also worried that the European Galileo system, which was beyond its control, wouldweaken its leadership in the NATO alliance (Gleason 2009: 3). Concerning

US economic competitiveness, the US had dominated the provision of global standard of PNT data (Lewis et al. 2005: iv). The US regarded the Galileo system as a threat to its economic interests, because the Galileo system might create another set of global PNT standards and break the US monopoly on commercial satellite navigation applications (Handberg 2007: 366; Giegerich 2007: 491; MacDonald 2007: 605). Nevertheless, the US failed to block the progress of an independent European satellite navigation system. The US asked Europe to continue depending on GPS, but was reluctant to guarantee the quality and the provision of GPS PNT data. The US also tried to discourage Europe from developing the Galileo system by making GPS more competitive through an upgraded program. The US claimed that an upgraded GPS would make Galileo unnecessary. However, the pace of the GPS upgrade program was too slow to remove the European determination (Lewis 2004a: 2). Europe calculated that developing its own satellite navigation system was more cost-effective to pursue its interests and to fulfill its space policy goal (MacDonald 2007: 604). The US modified its strategy from opposing Galileo’s development to

negotiating with Europe on the compatibility and interoperability between Galileo and the GPS, given Europe’s determination to develop an independent satellite navigation system, along with several changes in the international and domestic structures such as increasing security needs in the post-September 11 era, the unexpected shortage of Galileo funding, the pressures of vested commercial interests on Europe, and the US misgivings over technology proliferation occasioned by the PRC’s involvement in the Galileo program. Compatibility and interoperability between these two systems were ensured and regulated eventually by the US-European intergovernmental agreement, signed in 2004. In this chapter, I argue that neoliberal institutionalism is more plausible

than the other two rationalist theories in explaining the practices of Europe and the US in the field of satellite navigation, particularly their strategy shift from competition to cooperation. The US sought to maintain space dominance and block the development of a European satellite navigation system that would undermine its political, economic, and security interests. Europe considered developing its own satellite navigation system as a cost-effective strategy to achieve autonomy in space and protect its political, security, and economic interests. The contradictory interests between the US and Europe engendered the transatlantic dispute in the field of satellite navigation. Europe and the US did not consider the possibility of cooperation until the international and domestic structures changed in the early 2000s. Europe and the US realized that, under the new structural situation, continuous competition would leave them in danger, and they could protect their own interests and achieve their respective space policy goals only through cooperation. Finally, the intergovernmental agreement signed in 2004 settled the transatlantic dispute over their dual-use satellite navigation systems. In sum, Europe and the US had both contradictory and common interests. That is, this case represents a mixedmotive situation, and Europe and the US changed their strategies when both

sides recognized that they had to cooperate in order to achieve their respective objectives in a new structural situation. This chapter proceeds in four sections. The first and second sections provide a

background to the analysis of the interaction between the US GPS and the European Galileo system by illustrating the origins and attributes of the two systems respectively. Most space technologies contain a dual-use character. In particular, a satellite navigation system simultaneously provides coarse PNT data for civilian use and precise PNT data for military operations. The US GPS is a sheer military system with considerable civilian and commercial applications. The European Galileo system was developed for civilian and commercial use, but came into being primarily from the European demand for autonomous security management and did not exclude the potential for military use. The two systems were developed within different contexts, but the development of both was sensitive to international and domestic structures. The third section discusses the shift of US and European strategies from competition to cooperation. This section explains the US preferences of maintaining its dominance and preventing PNT data from proliferation, the European insistence on the path of autonomy in space, and the structural changes that caused their strategy shift. The fourth section evaluates the explanatory strength of IR theories with the research findings of this case study.