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#Brexit satellite disruption to cost UK £1 billion per day



Losing the European Galileo GPS system as a result of Brexit is set to cost the UK £1 billion every day due to affected sat navs, mobile apps and aircraft tech, research reveals.

The Spaceport Case File looks at the space sector in the UK, including how the encrypted system was planned to enhance Britain’s critical applications once fully operational in 2026, including military drones, autonomous vehicles and commercial uses.

To date, the UK has invested £1.2bn into Galileo’s development. However, with Brexit pulling the plug on UK defence and safety participation, the UK will lose access to the satellite system and the money - without having a GNSS of its own in place.

This lack of GNSS would have significant impacts on critical UK infrastructure, resulting in vulnerabilities in telecommunication networks, compromised power distribution across the electric grid and access to cash from SWIFT-based ATMs, the government claims

Although it’s impossible to know exactly what the effects of losing a GNSS would be to the UK, broad analysis implies that losing access to Galileo will also negatively impact the emergency services, as it will leave key services vulnerable to hacking.

As it stands, UK police, ambulance and fire services alone cite estimated GVA contributing benefits of £96.5 million due to GNSS, as the system helps to keep maintenance costs down and allows dispatchers to optimize the use of emergency vehicles.

Snapshot of annual key sector contributing benefits from GNSS



Description of GNSS applications

Estimated GVA benefits £

Estimated utility benefits £

Weather forecasting

Radio-occultation, lightning detection and sensor positioning



Offender tracking

Offender tagging and prison place management



Cellular telecommunications

Radio frequency stability



Across all key sectors - including health, communications and government - the loss of access to a global satellite system works out to a staggering £365bn per year, or 17% of the total UK economy (GDP).

As well as losing out on its £1.2bn Galileo investment, the UK is set to invest a further £92m of its Brexit readiness fund into development of an independent satellite system. This will mark a significant expansion of the UK space sector, alongside the three planned spaceports which will begin satellite launches this year from Cornwall.

Despite concerns around space debris and emissions, the spaceports are expected to have significant financial benefits for the UK. All three sites could provide £469m benefit to the UK economy, based on the average return rate of £2-4 for every £1 of investment into earth observation applications.

  • The UK is set to forfeit use of the leading global satellite navigation system, Galileo, after withdrawing from the EU, new research shows.

  • This sustained disruption to sat-nav could cost the UK economy £1 billion per day as a result of compromised critical military and commercial applications.

  • Stay in Cornwall’s Spaceport Case File reveals the economic, environmental, academic, and employment impacts of expanding the UK space sector.

  • The UK has already invested £1.2bn into Galileo, and will now have to spend an additional £92m to develop an independent satellite system.

To read more about the impacts of the spaceport in the Spaceport Case File, click here.


Over 40 arrested in biggest-ever crackdown against drug ring smuggling cocaine from Brazil into Europe



In the early hours of the morning (27 November), more than a thousand police officers with the support of Europol carried out co-ordinated raids against the members of this highly professional criminal syndicate. Some 180 house searches were executed, resulting in the arrest of 45 suspects. 

The investigation uncovered that this drug trafficking network was responsible for the annual importation of at least 45 tonnes of cocaine into the main European seaports, with profits exceeding €100 million over the course of 6 months.

This international sting, led by the Portuguese, Belgian and Brazilian authorities, was carried out simultaneously by agencies from three different continents, with coordination efforts facilitated by Europol:

  • Europe: Portuguese Judicial Police (Polícia Judiciária), Belgian Federal Judicial Police (Federale Gerechtelijke Politie, Police Judiciaire Fédérale), Spanish National Police (Policia Nacional), Dutch Police (Politie) and the Romanian Police (Poliția Română)
  • South America: Brazilian Federal Police (Policia Federal)
  • Middle East: Dubai Police Force and Dubai State Security

Results in brief 

  • 45 arrests in Brazil (38), Belgium (4), Spain (1) and Dubai (2).
  • 179 house searches.
  • Over €12m in cash seized in Portugal, €300,000 in cash seized in Belgium and over R$1m and US$169,000 in cash seized in Brazil.
  • 70 luxury vehicles seized in Brazil, Belgium and Spain and 37 aircrafts seized in Brazil.
  • 163 houses seized in Brazil worth in excess of R$132m, two houses seized in Spain worth €4m, and two apartments seized in Portugal worth €2.5m.
  • Financial assets of 10 individuals frozen in Spain.

Global co-operation 

In the framework of intelligence activities underway with its operational counterparts, Europol developed reliable intelligence concerning the international drug trafficking and money laundering activities of a Brazilian organized crime network operating in several EU countries.

The criminal syndicate had direct contact with drug cartels in Brazil and other South American source countries who were responsible for the preparation and the shipments of cocaine in maritime containers bound to major European seaports.

The scale of cocaine importation from Brazil to Europe under their control and command is massive and over 52 tonnes of cocaine were seized by law enforcement over the course of the investigation.

In April 2020, Europol brought together the involved countries who have since been working closely together to establish a joint strategy to bring down the whole network. The main targets were identified on either sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Since then, Europol has provided continuous intelligence development and analysis to support the field investigators. During the action day, a total of 8 of its officers were deployed on-the-ground in Portugal, Belgium and Brazil to assist there the national authorities, ensuring swift analysis of new data as it was being collected during the action and adjusting the strategy as required.

Commenting on this operation, Europol’s Deputy Director Wil van Gemert said: "This operation highlights the complex structure and vast reach of Brazilian organized crime groups in Europe. The scale of the challenge faced today by police worldwide calls for a coordinated approach to tackle the drug trade across continents. The commitment of our partner countries to work via Europol underpinned the success of this operation and serves as a continued global call to action."

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Navalny calls on Europe to follow the money



The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee held an exchange of views with representatives of the Russian political opposition and NGOs on the current political and socio-economic situation in Russia.

Among the speakers was Alexei Navalny, who has recently recovered from being poisoned with a nerve agent similar to the one used in the Salisbury attack targeted at Sergei Skirpal and his daughter. 

Navalny called on Europe to adopt a new strategy towards Russia, that meets the new developments in Russian state leadership. He said that the forthcoming elections for the State Duma would be an absolutely crucial event and that everyone should be able to participate. If opposition politicians are not allowed to participate he asked the European Parliament and every European politician not to recognize the outcome.

Navalny told MEPs that it was not enough to sanction those responsible for carrying out his poisoning and that there was little sense in sanctioning those who didn’t travel a lot or who didn’t own assets in Europe. Instead, he said the main question that should be asked is who gained financially from Putin’s regime. Navalny pointed to the oligarchs, not just the old ones, but the new ones in Putin’s inner circle, with name-checks for Usmanov and Roman Abramovich. He said that these sanctions would be warmly welcomed by most Russians. 

On the various decisions of the European Court of Human Rights that have been ignored by the Russian judiciary, Navalny said it would be very easy to sanction them to prevent them from traveling to Europe and it would be very effective.

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Commission approves German scheme to compensate accommodation providers in the field of child and youth education for damages suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak



The European Commission approved, under EU state aid rules, a German scheme to compensate accommodation providers for child and youth education for the loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The public support will take the form of direct grants. The scheme will compensate up to 60% of the loss of revenues incurred by eligible beneficiaries in the period between the beginning of the lockdown (which started on different dates across the regional states) and 31 July 2020 when their accommodation facilities had to be closed due to the restrictive measures implemented in Germany.

When calculating the loss of revenue, any reductions in costs resulting from income generated during the lockdown and any possible financial aid granted or actually paid out by the state (and in particular granted under scheme SA.58464) or third parties to cope with the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak will be deducted. At the central government level, facilities eligible to apply will have at their disposal a budget of up to €75 million.

However, these funds are not earmarked exclusively for this scheme. In addition, regional authorities (at Länder or local level) may also make use of this scheme from the local budgets. In any event, the scheme ensures that the same eligible costs cannot be compensated twice by different administrative levels. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which enables the Commission to approve state aid measures granted by member states to compensate specific companies or specific sectors for the damages caused by exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The Commission found that the German scheme will compensate damages that are directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the envisaged compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damages. The Commission therefore concluded that the scheme is in line with EU state aid rules.

More information on actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.59228 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website.

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