The European Union has agreed to proceed with Galileo, a satellite navigation project designed to rival the GPS system of the United States. The project has been fraught with difficulties, primarily squabbles about how to divide the spoils among the consortium of states backing the effort. Those problems were solved by the traditional European cure-all — horse trading.

Still, some of the questions that have dogged Galileo — in particular whether it makes economic sense — persist. But Galileo’s real significance is symbolic, and moving forward may well make sense even if the numbers do not add up.

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