Security research: EU action to improve protection of citizens

February 4, 2004

Brussels, 3 February 2004

The European Commission today presented the key elements for a test phase or "Preparatory Action" on security research. The Communication, entitled "Towards a programme to advance European security through Research and Technology", explains why security research needs to be co-ordinated at the EU level. It also presents key priority areas which need to be addressed such as: protection against terrorism (including bio terrorism); improving crisis management; and enhancing the security, reliability, protection and interoperability of communication systems, thus making it easier for civilian and military authorities across the EU to co-ordinate their actions. A €65 million budget has been earmarked for the initial phase (2004 2006). The Preparatory Action should lead to a full European Security Research Programme starting in 2007. This should bring together the necessary know-how and investment for the joint development of technologies which are critical for Europe's security. In the long term, it should also contribute to enhancing Europe's industrial competitive edge in these areas.

"Today Europe is faced with considerable duplication and fragmentation in security structures and programmes. This hampers cost-efficiency and leads to many other problems," said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. "The cross-fertilization of ideas and results between civilian and military research represent exciting potential for an enlarged Europe. However, in order to access such potential, Europe must invest in a culture which harnesses the combined strengths of industry and the research community in this crucial field. The Preparatory Action will generate useful lessons, and lead to the building of a foundation and knowledge base for future activities in this area."

"Europe's civil security drive is a logical extension of research work that is already under way on information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the interoperability of systems," said Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen. "ICTs currently account for a significant part of Europe's defence research, and are vital to secure a competitive and technological industrial base. Harnessing industrial and defence research resources should accelerate progress towards the EU's twin goals of raising research investment to 3% of EU GDP, and becoming the world's most competitive knowledge-based economy".

The test phase

The Security Research Preparatory Action will address the needs of potential users of relevant technologies. Users will mainly come from the public sector, namely government, security agencies and non-governmental organisations.

The first call for proposals for the Preparatory Action will be published in early March 2004. For the coming year an amount of €15 million has been allocated to fund six to eight projects and supporting activities.

Research projects selected will be 'mission oriented' - that is to say capable of delivering tangible results in key areas which address the 'immediate security challenges' facing Europe.

Immediate security challenges

The following priority areas were identified, following consultation with national authorities, industry and a group of senior representatives from European industry, government and academia:

  • Improving situation awareness;

  • Optimising security and protection of networked systems;

  • Protecting against terrorism (including bio-terrorism and incidents with biological, chemical and other substances);

  • Enhancing crisis management (including evacuation, search and rescue operations, active agents control and remediation);

  • Achieving interoperability and integrated systems for information and communication;
In addition, the call for proposals will include a number of "supporting activities" which will address specific subjects such as the fragmentation of security structures in Europe, socio-economic and market studies, scenario building (including threat analysis), and technology foresight.

Next Steps

The results of the Preparatory Action will form the basis for a possible decision by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers to establish a "European Security Research Programme" after 2006. Experience and knowledge gained from this phase will help ensure that the future Security Research Programme will be optimally designed and appropriately funded, so that it can concretely contribute to the technological excellence and capabilities required for the EU to promote peace, security and prosperity both within and beyond Europe.

DN: IP/04/145 Date: 03/02/2004

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