The EU wants to create its own Low Earth orbiting (LEO) broadband satellite system, but Eutelsat, currently participating in outlining the scheme, might find itself locked out of the project.
Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, speaking at the launch of the European Union’s Agency for Space Programme (EUSPA), said that the EU had taken note of Eutelsat’s decision to participate in a competitor.
Breton said that the EU would not compromise over the project which was absolutely critical for the EU’s autonomy, sovereignty and future.
Commissioner Breton’s comments seemingly reverse what was until recently seen as a potential advantage in that Eutelsat’s participation in OneWeb could have represented a collaboration between Europe and the UK-backed satellite system.
Breton now says that the EU is investigating whether Eutelsat has breached its contract because of the investment in OneWeb. There are similar questions over Airbus, another participant in the planning for the EU LEO system. Airbus owns half of OneWeb’s satellite manufacturing business.
Eutelsat, in response, says that the European satellite constellation is at a very early stage in its study. “We don’t know whether [the EU project] will be competing with OneWeb. They may have completely different missions, and it is also possible that they could be complementary.”