Brussels, 07 Feb 2005
The development of an EU strategy for collective security requires a competitive defence industry and innovative, technologically advanced security solutions, the EU Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, Günter Verheugen has said.
Speaking on the new defence agenda in Brussels on 3 February, Mr Verheugen said the programme on security research to be established within the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) will help meet those challenges.
'We increasingly need high-tech security solutions developed from civil technologies and applications,' stated the Commissioner. 'In this regard, the Preparatory Action for Security Research is paving the way for a future large scale programme on security research under the umbrella of the 7th R&D [Research and Development] framework programme,' he added.
According to the Commissioner, the new fight against terrorism, which has become a priority for all Member States, requires a comprehensive strategy covering a wide range of measures, including supporting the industrial base necessary to provide adequate security systems, military equipment and civil crisis management capabilities.
The security industry has traditionally been excluded from the benefits of EU policies, said Mr Verheugen. But the Commission is confident that the new European Defence Agency will help strengthen the competitiveness of the industry in Europe.
Space programmes will also contribute to security, said Mr Verheugen, in particular the European capacity for Global Monitoring of Environment and Security - the GMES programme. It is hoped GMES, to be established in 2008, will contribute considerably to securing the provision of information needed to avert threats and respond to crises.
'Finally,' said Mr Verheugen, 'the exploitation of civil-military synergies is a key priority within this new security context. Europe needs increased research and development investments not only in defence and security, but also in civil technologies, which can lead to further security applications. The European defence industry landscape proves that diversification and the exploitation of the synergies of dual-use technologies are now the rule.'
The Commissioner insisted it is up to businesses to decide to invest in R&D, to train their workers and develop new products. The Commission is currently carrying out an impact assessment study to create a pro-business framework in this field, he added.
Although the EU can never hope to match the US defence budget, Europe should be more determined to make the most out of the funds that are available to develop the capacities and technologies it needs, believes Mr Verheugen.
'That requires greater coordination and an increased focus on R&D in European defence budgets. The transatlantic financing gap will remain, but that should spur Europe to act quickly in order to limit the current fragmentation and duplication. Europe's security ambitions compel us to achieve the highest technological levels by building on European centres of excellence, wherever they are to be found,' stated Mr Verheugen.