The EU wants to limit the dominance of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite communications, fearing the need to rely on the US company SpaceX in the event of a national security crisis, reports Politico.

With this in mind, the bloc plans to sign billion-dollar contracts for the construction and operation of a new constellation of IRIS² communications satellites by the end of March. Its goal is to provide secure communications and military-grade Internet.

When countries last discussed the EU’s seven-year budget in 2019, plans for such a network were put on the back burner. But Russia’s invasion into Ukraine has changed the debate.

“With the war, Ukraine needed satellite telecommunications, but the EU didn’t have something to offer,” said Christophe Grudler, the Renew member of the European Parliament who leads on the bloc’s secure connectivity program. “Ukraine should not have to rely on the whims of Elon Musk to defend their people.”

Now the bloc wants to create its own competitive system. European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton, who is the architect of the plan, called it a goal to sign “the largest space contract in EU history” worth billions of euros by Easter.

The initial goal of IRIS² was to strengthen the bloc’s space know-how. But now it is supported by security arguments. Hundreds of satellites are planned to be used in the project, and it is expected to be fully launched in 2027 or 2028.