MPs told Airbus will have to move work from Portsmouth to Europe for satellite contract

Artist's view of a Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellite
Artist's view of a Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellite

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WORK on a European sat-nav system being carried out in Portsmouth will have to move to factories in Europe after Brexit, MPs have been told.

Bids for a new round of contracts on the EU’s Galileo project specify the work be led by an EU-based company from March, when Britain is due to leave the EU, Airbus UK’s managing director Colin Paynter said.

Work on a ground control system for the satellite network has been carried out by Airbus in Portsmouth since 2003.

Mr Paynter told MPs on the Exiting the European Union Committee: ‘Effectively that means that for Airbus to bid and win that work, we will effectively novate (replace) all of the work from the UK to our factories in France and Germany on day one of that contract.’

He added the Brexit transition period would not help mitigate the loss of work because it was deemed ‘security-sensitive procurement’ and is not covered in the transition arrangements.

It comes days after the government said Britain is considering launching a rival to Galileo, which has received 1.4bn euros (£1.2bn) from Britain since 2003, after reportedly being blocked from sensitive elements of the project.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the UK Space Agency would lead a task force developing a system ‘using the world-beating expertise of Britain’s thriving space sector’.

Mr Paynter told MPs today that Airbus had ‘all of the skills and capabilities needed to support that programme should it come out’.