Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen: Joint Approach to Security Research - Opening Speech and the Research and Technology Conference, European Defence Agency

February 10, 2006

Brussels, 9th February 2006

Mr Chairman,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the first time the European Commission, the European Defence Agency, industry and representatives from the Member States are meeting to discuss together a joint approach to security research. Some years ago this would not have been possible.

I am happy to be invited to give an opening statement today, and I would like to thank the European Defence Agency for having taken this initiative.

Why does security rank so high on the European political agenda today? And why, at Hampton Court, did heads of State and Government underline the importance of research and express the need for increased spending and more co-operation in this area?

Europe is mostly known for its economic and social policies and identity, but Europe is also increasingly developing a security identity.

The roots of this development can be found in the shocking security incidents that have occurred over the last few years notably in New York, Madrid, and London.

The citizens of the European Union have a growing awareness of threats to their lives, their wealth, and their common values. Threats are global, so the solutions cannot only come from the Member States. Security solutions are expected on the national, European, and global levels.

Our American friends have a very clear-cut political approach to security. For them, the notion of &ndashœhomeland security&ndash covers a wide range of areas and activities. The boundaries between &ndashœInternal&ndash and &ndashœexternal&ndash security are blurred under this single notion.

For the European Union, the situation is more complex.

It is the historical development of the European Union that established three different pillars of political decision making for different strands of &ndashœsecurity&ndash. We also find disperse responsibilities both on the European level as well as the Member States level.

Thus the framework of security policies is very delicate.

Nevertheless one has to realise that in real life, operations of the civil security sector and the military sector resemble each other &ndash“ and increasingly so. Thus the current split of research domains appears sometimes artificial, especially when viewed at the technology level. However, the policy missions are different.

There are several examples which make clear the dual or multiple use character of security technologies both in the civil and defence domain (like vehicles used for border control or the protection of infrastructures; or interoperability of secure communication systems). We have to join our forces.

Both the Commission and EDA are currently working on long-term strategic research agendas for &ndashœtheir&ndash security research domains. They bring together the end-users who define the strategic requirements, and the industrial community, who will be required to meet those requirements. The agendas need to define clear research and investment priorities.

In research, we need innovative approaches, we need to avoid harmful research gaps and unnecessary duplication. What we need is co-ordination between the security research agendas.

We also need a permanent dialogue between the demand and the supply side to shape this strategy and to make it operational. We need a dynamic balance between &ndashœpull&ndash and &ndashœpush&ndash. For the Commission, advice on this, and other issues, is the task of the European Security Research Advisory Board, which was established in order to guide the structure, content and priorities the future security research programme.

I am pleased to say that on the European level interaction between the Commission and the European Defence Agency works in an excellent way by involving EDA staff in Commission working parties as well as vice versa.

We will have two long-term security research agendas, but they will be related to each other.

This will give more research value for the money.

Apart from European level security research, a lot of research work of high relevance for the security domain is performed on the national level &ndash“ with resulting overlaps and fragmentation.

The Commission will make every effort to overcome this fragmentation. We need to co-ordinate not only between the civil and the defence-related security research domains but also between the national and the European level. No appropriate mechanism exists to undertake such co-ordination and this must be jointly developed over the coming months.

Why? Because we need more co-ordination and more money for research.

Civil Community security research in the future 7th Framework Programme will receive a significant budget allocation. Nevertheless, the Commission will by no means be in a position to cover all research needs with that budget. European security research will have to focus on issues of clear European added value compared to security research carried out in the Member States. The Community is not the &ndashœ26th Member State&ndash.

  • An example for a security research mission area of clear European added value is the external border of the Union. After abolishing our internal borders, securing one particular part of the external borders of the Union is no longer the concern of one Member State alone, it is the concern and responsibility of all European citizens together. Hence it is the responsibility of the Community to invest into its protection. Promoting the required research into a border security mission area is the logical consequence.
  • Another example may be the Trans European Networks (TEN), a joint European infrastructure which needs to be protected. Here again the Community has a responsibility.
A new European security and defence policy is taking shape. It needs instruments. It needs an industrial network. And it needs a strong and competitive technology basis.

Technology and research are not targets per se. They are instruments which serve political objectives. Technology itself cannot guarantee security but security without the support of technology is impossible.

Europe is at the dawn of establishing its own security identity and security culture. No Member State will have to abandon part of its sovereign rights, but all Member States will have to contribute to building this European security culture together.

While working on it, we must respect human rights and ethical values, which are part of our European heritage, identity and common values.

We in the Commission are confident that our efforts will encourage others in pursuit of a more secure Europe in a more secure world.

Being myself a member of the Steering Board of EDA, I intend to work hand in hand with the Agency on this great endeavour.

Item source: SPEECH/06/70 Date: 09/02/2006

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