January 24, 2018 / 3:55 PM / a year ago

British EU space police axed by Brexit, moving to Spain

FILE PHOTO: A hologram of the 'Galileo' satellite is projected inside a dome during a European Space Expo, running under the auspices of the European Commission in Athens' Syntagma Square, March 28, 2015. REUTERS/Kostas Tsironis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A security centre for the European Union’s Galileo navigation satellites will be moved from Britain to Spain because of Brexit, the EU executive said on Wednesday after a meeting of its commissioners.

With Britain already losing 1,000 jobs as the EU’s medicines and banking agencies quit London for the continent, the departure of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre back-up site from Swanwick near Southampton will involve only a single employee.

However, once in Spain, the operation may expand to possibly as many as 30 staff, as the Galileo system grows to challenge the U.S. Global Positioning System, GPS.

The British site backs up the main GSMC near Paris whose role is to counter security threats to satellites and signals.

The British government says it wants to maintain close ties to the EU in areas such as space science, where Britain is a major provider of funds and expertise.

But Brussels has taken a strict line on the geography of EU institutions, insisting these must be located physically inside the Union and no longer in Britain by the time it formally quits the bloc in March 2019.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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