Britain could access but not develop European GPS, Barnier says

epa06317697 Michel Barnier, the European Chief Negotiator speaks during the second edition of the meeting 'Il Messaggero dell'Economia, Convegno"Obbligati a crescere-L'Europa dopo la Brexit' (The Economist's Messagger- Conference 'Obliged to Grow-Europe After Brexit') at Altieri's Palace in Rome, Italy, 09 November 2017. EPA-EFE/ALESSANDRO DI MEO

VIENNA (Reuters) – Britain could access the European Union’s Galileo satellite navigation system after Brexit but will no longer be able to work on developing the project, the bloc’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Tuesday.

Galileo, a rival to the U.S.-owned GPS, became a flashpoint in Brexit talks last month after London accused the EU of shutting British companies out of the project.

Brexit secretary David Davis said this month that Britain had been instrumental in developing Galileo’s technology, and that shutting it out at this stage would delay the project by up to three years and increase the bill by 1 billion euros (£0.8 billion).

“The rules as they are today… [are] a third country cannot take part in the development of the PRS signal,” Barnier told reporters, referring to the Galileo Public Regulated Service.

Britain was among the 28 member European Union member states to approve the rules, he added.

“There is a way for the UK to be included in a partnership about Galileo as a user of (services) including the PRS,” Barnier told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Vienna, adding the issue should be addressed “in the framework of our future strategic partnership with the UK.”

When asked if that meant Britain could not take part in the project’s development, however, he said: “Not development. It is a unanimous decision of the 28. The facts have consequences.”

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Alexandra Hudson