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Thierry Breton says bloc’s Wi-Fi satellite program will exclude non-EU countries

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The European Commission will likely exclude non-EU countries from a new communications satellite program so it can be used for government and military use, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said Tuesday, according to Politico. 

The French commissioner has been promoting plans for a third major EU satellite network to complement Galileo and Copernicus since the start of his mandate.

At a meeting of space policymakers in Brussels Tuesday, Breton said the full proposal will arrive in a „few weeks” and include strict criteria for those wishing to take part.

„It will reduce European dependency on non-European commercial initiatives under development,” Breton said about the plan. „Being a strategic constellation, we will make sure that the right governance and eligibility conditions are put in place to avoid any dependencies on third countries.”

The scheme is likely to cost billions of euros to develop but European space companies support the plan as it will ensure there is a steady stream of research, development and launch contracts for local firms in the years ahead.

Breton originally commissioned a feasibility study last year to assess options for a satellite project to rival SpaceX’s Starlink, the U.K.’s OneWeb and other similar programs providing space-based internet service.

While France has so far got behind Breton’s initiative, the previous German government argued the Commission needed to decide exactly what kind of service it would offer. Last year, the Commission included the project in its Global Gateway initiative to rival China’s One Belt, One Road program.