The EU's proposed alternative to the U.S.-run GPS system, the Galileo satellite project, is now facing strong opposition from some of its strongest backers. The Galileo project has consistently run afoul of EU member nations' budget expectations, with a projected price of €3.4 billion (US$4.7 billion) and now member states including the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, are in disagreement over the allotment of funding.

Germany's primary fear is that new funding could lead to infighting over which member states get the contracts to build the satellite and related infrastructure. It's not an unrealistic fear, as similar infighting between eight companies from France, Germany, Spain, Britain, and Italy is what caused the project to stall during the last round of funding.

But many in the EU hold the Galileo project to be of fundamental importance. Because the U.S. owns and operates the GPS system of satellites, they can shut down the system at will, for proprietary reasons. Dependence on U.S. GPS signals is therefore seen as a weakness to be remedied. The Galileo system would, however, be interoperable with the U.S. GPS system.

Only one of the proposed network of 24 satellites was actually put in orbit - in December 2005. The next one missed its target date of third quarter 2006 due to technical difficulties, and now the project seems to be headed for the scrap heap unless member states can work out their disagreements.