The European Parliament yesterday opened the way for the civilian Galileo satellite system to be used for military and security purposes as part of a plan to improve the efficiency of defence communications.
It also called for more standardisation in communications and surveillance technology to get more from total defence spending of over€200bn a year, and"strongly requested" member states to focus their efforts on "common capabilities which can be used for both defence and security purposes".
This applied to satellite-based intelligence, surveillance and warning equipment, unmanned air vehicles, helicopters and telecommunication equipment and air and sea transport.
In a statement the European Parliament said it considered it necessary to allow the use of the Galileo and GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) systems for security and defence purposes.
Originally built to compete with the US's Global Positioning System (GPS), Galileo has struggled to find commercial users.
Parliamentarians also demandeda common technical standard for protected telecommunications and ways of protecting critical infrastructure. They were "deeply concerned about the lack of efficiency and co-ordination" in defence spending. They urged greater efforts to reduce unnecessary duplication between member states through specialisation, pooling and sharing of existing capabilities, and joint development of new ones.
They said capability needs are often technologically very similar or identical for armed forces operations, border surveillance, protection of critical infrastructure and disaster management. This created opportunities to rationalised and enhance interoperability between armed forces and security forces, they said.