Frequently Asked Questions on European Security Research

October 8, 2003

Brussels, 7 October 2003

How can Community research contribute to a European security strategy?

The Commission has successfully managed co-operative EU research programmes for years through the Framework Programmes. This experience can prove to be very useful in the area of security research. The activities foreseen in a future Security Research Programme are not intended to replace other efforts in this field, but rather, in accordance with the subsidiarity principle, to support and supplement them.

Efforts to develop a European Security Defence Policy (ESDP) are in full swing. Current thinking on this issue is evolving rapidly for a range of reasons: increasing threats on the security of citizens and modern society; the fact that it is impossible to have a credible security and defence policy without a strong and competitive defence industry and a healthy environment for R&D investment; the high cost of duplication and fragmentation of research; and the strategic role of security research in the Lisbon Strategy for a competitive EU economy.

Therefore, the Commission is exploring the development of a EU security research initiative at Community level. The Preparatory Action should demonstrate the added value of EU co-operation in security research using the community approach and help develop appropriate means of dealing with intellectual property legislation, co-funding, etc. This pilot phase will form the basis of a full-fledged programme for security research in the near future.

Why is this being done now?

European integration is at a critical juncture. After intensive debate and consultation in the Convention on the future of Europe, work on a draft constitutional Treaty has now been successfully concluded. A new constitution will bring major changes to the Union's institutional framework. In 2004, the widest-ever EU enlargement will become a reality, bringing together the two halves of a continent artificially divided for almost five decades. As a union of 25 States, with over 450 million people producing a quarter of the world's Gross National Product, the European Union is a global player and it should be ready to share in the responsibility for global security.

The complex security threats effecting the world today are evolving at an increasing pace and directly influence a wide range of EU policies.

Enlargement will generate new security challenges for a new Europe that directly borders less stable regions. In fact, the current political and factual context, the institutional landscape and the very concept of security is changing and will continue to change rapidly in the years to come. In order to maintain a secure Europe in the midst of these changes, it has become imperative to develop a new "security culture" in Europe that is more in tune with today's security requirements.

The combined budgets for RTD in the defence sector in all EU Member States is approximately 5 times less than the corresponding budget in the U.S. In fact, the new US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will receive $669 million in R&D funding from the federal budget in 2003, nearly triple the $266 million for comparable programs in 2002. In 2004, the DHS will receive $1 billion. Similarly, the R&D budget for the US Department of Defense (DOD) was recently increased by $8.8 billion (or 17.6%) to reach $58.6 billion (1) . Consequently, the EU is at risk of becoming more dependent and vulnerable in this essential area.

Within Europe, the lack of a co-ordinated and coherent security approach between Member States, a certain degree of duplication and fragmentation, and the lack of security system interoperability in Europe, emphasise this risk and the urgency to act now.

Council, Parliament and industry have repeatedly encouraged the Commission to undertake actions (2) that would strengthen Europe's long-term security capabilities. Recent public opinion polls show that European citizens also expect government to take a more international approach when it comes to their security and are increasingly in favour of the development of a common European Defence Policy.

What will the Preparatory Action involve and what is its anticipated outcome?

The Preparatory Action is, in essence, a pilot phase that will help prepare for a future Security Research Programme. To accomplish this, it will aim to:

  • Identify appropriate methods and institutional settings for the future organisation of security-related research.

  • Examine how to relate the Commission's existing research activities to the specific needs of security.

  • Explore possibilities to enhance industrial competitiveness and improve the cost-efficiency of technological co-operation in the field.

  • Answer questions that are necessary for a long-term strategy, for example:
    • How to define and implement a comprehensive research strategy that corresponds to the new security challenges?

    • How can potential synergies between civil and defence research be exploited?

    • How can the Commission involve (national) customers in a community programme?, etc.
This would be implemented by:
  • Launching a series of RTD activities supporting European wide security issues complementing those undertaken in regional, national and inter-governmental contexts.

  • Establishing a consultation and consensus-building platform with the relevant stakeholders to develop a long-term vision and a strategic research agenda for Europe in this area.

  • Demonstrating that the Community can respond with appropriate actions to some of the immediate challenges that Europe is facing.
How much money will be spent on this activity?

In the initial period of three years for the Preparatory Action a total budget of €65 million will be proposed. It is expected that considerably more money will be needed to seriously address Europe's security research needs in the future. This is an issue which may be addressed in the context of the forthcoming discussions on the future Financial Perspectives of the Union.

What topics have been chosen for short term and long term research and why?

In the short term, research covered under the Preparatory Action will be mission-oriented. These "missions" call for innovative solutions, and this is where R&D will come into play. Technical capabilities must be developed by industry and research establishments to support operational requirements. The following topics are examples of the subjects that may be addressed in the Preparatory Action:

  • Interoperability of systems and standards for information and communication

  • Crisis management (incl. evacuation and search and rescue operations)

  • Security in a distributed environment, applied to existing infrastructures and using European space-based assets

  • Protection of vital public and private infrastructure

  • Protection against incidents with bio-chemical and other substances

  • Concepts and technologies for situation awareness, applied for border surveillance, monitoring of infrastructures and public space, etc.

  • Non-lethal means against terrorist actions.
For example, possible "mission-oriented" activities of a Security Preparatory Action could cover the following:

Mission: Improve the control of EU external borders in view of enlargement.

  • Technologies could include: iris scan technologies, genetic/DNA technologies, face recognition, bio-chemical analyses, combination of various technologies to improve reliability, reduce time for analysis, etc.

  • Technologies to enable tracking & tracing of visas throughout the Union including: active methods using transponder technologies, passive technologies using automated inspection; novel ideas on issuing visas.
Mission: Improve the security of aircraft and airport security.
  • Technologies to be considered might include: Temporarily label luggage throughout the handling at airports; autonomous bio-chemical analysis of content; computer-aided visual inspection of content; decision support: technologies to automate/aid understanding of luggage content from the combination of multi-sensor information.
Mission: Reduce the risk of Bio-terrorism.
  • Technologies to enable rapid detection & alarm in case of attacks with biological agents;

  • Technologies to enable efficient neutralisation of chemical agents used in attacks.

  • Protection of satellite surveillance systems of sensitive areas (water tanks, nuclear sites, etc.)


Full text

DN: MEMO/03/192 Date: 07/10/2003

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