Disputes among members of an industry consortium that have partnered with the European Union (EU) to implement Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system forced the European Commission (EC) yesterday to pursue a strategy of building the network with public funds. The 30-satellite Galileo network is expected to emerge as a key competitor against the U.S Global Positioning System, which consists of 24 spacecraft. Under the original plan, a private consortium consisting of eight companies, including Inmarsat, Hispasat of Spain, Thales of France, and Finmeccanica of Italy, was to build, launch, and operate the Galileo system while financing two-thirds of its U.S. $4.9 billion construction cost. (The remaining third was to come from EU public funds.) Although Galileo is slated for completion in 2011, the project has been beset with delays as members of the consortium have sparred over management and financial issues. Warning that the disputes were placing Galileo in jeopardy, European Union (EU) transportation commissioner Jacques Barrot gave the companies a deadline of May 10 by which they had to resolve their differences or risk losing control of the project. As the deadline passed without an agreement, a spokeswoman said that the EC is likely to finance Galileo entirely with public funds, as she acknowledged that leaving the consortium in control of the project would result in “irretrievable delays and would entail unacceptable risks.” The EC is expected to decide on its options next Wednesday and to solicit a vote by transport ministers in early June. Observing that “Europe faces global competition as a base for technology,” a German aerospace policy minister described the matter as “urgent.”