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UK set to demand EU repayment in Brexit satellite row

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Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on May 22, 2018 after attending a meeting of the cabinet. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL

Britain was on Thursday set to demand the European Union repay £1 billion ($1.34 billion, 1.14 billion euros) if it is excluded from the Galileo satellite project post-Brexit, according to newspaper reports.

Britain’s Department for Exiting for the European Union was expected Thursday to release a report on the satellite navigation project, and Brussels’ decision to deny London access to its encrypted signals.

It is expected to raise the possibility of recovering Britain’s £1 billion investment in the system, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Brussels cited legal issues about sharing sensitive information with a non-member state during its move to shut British businesses out of the 10 billion euro project.

Britain played a major role in developing Galileo, an alternative to the US’s GPS, which is expected to be fully operational in 2026.

London has warned that being frozen out could have implications for the its future defence partnership with the EU.

“The arrangements for any UK cooperation on Galileo are an important test of the depth of operational cooperation and information-sharing envisaged under the security partnership,” it said earlier.

It demands continued British access to the secure signal and a right to compete for contracts.

Britain is looking into developing its own, separate system if the EU maintains its position, and has also raised the question of Galileo’s use of Britain’s overseas territories as monitoring bases.

The Times newspaper reported Thursday that the decision to block Britain was being led by a “German-backed clique” in the European Commission, and that it had caused a rift with French officials, who were reportedly unhappy with the plan.

Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the Baltic states have also objected to denying Britain access, said the report.

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