Brussels, 9 September 2004
The EU should launch a fully-fledged European Security Research Programme by 2007, with a sufficiently large budget. This is the core message of a Communication on "Security Research: The Next Steps", just adopted by the European Commission. The paper represents the Commission’s feedback to recommendations of a high-level group of top European industry executives and policymakers, published last March. The report, "Research for a Secure Europe", stresses the need for increased co-ordination in this field and advocates an annual EU budget of € 1 billion for security research.
"New technologies are key in the fight against terrorism - in fact, they can save lives," said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. "A strong European security research programme is critical for our security and it will enhance Europe's competitive edge in many areas. Europe simply cannot afford to ignore this critical area."
"Events have pushed security to the top of the political agenda both in Europe and across the globe. Nevertheless, EU Member States invest less than half as much as US in defence, whilst only achieving a fifth of the capabilities," added Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Olli Rehn. "The prerequisite for competitive industry is strong underlying research. The Communication is a firm step on the path towards a coherent European approach to security-related research."
Seal of approval
The Communication identifies steps ahead, including: development of a European Security Research Programme (ESRP), as part of the 7th EU Research Framework Programme (2007-2010); consultation and co-operation with stakeholders, via a "European Security Research Advisory Board" to be set up in 2004; creation of an effective institutional setting that takes into account the Union’s relevant policies - namely the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP),ï€ and the new European Defence Agency (EDA); specific measures for the allocation of contracts and funding in security research.
Testing the waters
Last March, the Commission launched a three-year "Preparatory Action" in the field of Security Research. With a budget of €15 million for 2004 and € 25 million a year for 2005 and 2006, the Preparatory Action is a first step towards a full ESRP from 2007. The first call for proposals closed on 23 June and over 170 eligible proposals were submitted.
Participants include companies in the aerospace, information & communication technologies, system integrators and defence sectors. 12 projects will be launched by December, covering areas such as situation awareness, protection of networked systems, protection against terrorism, crisis management and interoperability of control and communications systems. Two further calls for proposals will be issued in early 2005 and 2006.
Next on the agenda
This Autumn a "European Security Research Advisory Board" with experts from user groups, industry and research organisations, will start advising the EU on the content and implementation of the ESRP. In 2005 a proposal on the content, financial aspects and institutional framework for an ESRP will be presented by the Commission. Security research is already included in the proposed Financial Perspectives of the Union for 2007-2013.