Brussels, 15 Mar 2004
The Group of Personalities (GOP) for Security Research has published its Report. 'Research for a Secure Europe' describes the need for increased coordination in security research, outlining 12 recommendations for the future, including a minimum of € 1 billion annually for security technology development.
Geo-political, social and technological developments, says the Report, have created a security environment in which risks and vulnerabilities are more diverse, less visible and require a "comprehensive European security approach". This approach would address security-related needs, both inside and outside EU borders, combining civil and military resources.
Protecting European citizens
The envisaged 'European Security Research Programme' (ESRP) would fund the development of security systems and products to ensure:
- The protection of EU Member States' territories, domestic populations, and critical infrastructures against security threats;
- The success of EU-missions outside the Union for peacekeeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Rising to the challenge
According to the Report, technology is a clear requirement, a 'force enabler', for maximising Europe's security potential. To achieve this requires state-of-the-art know-how, high-tech industrial contributions, a strong knowledge infrastructure, appropriate funding and an optimal use of resources. The Report argues that while Europe possesses world-class research institutes and a strong industrial base to address security requirements, the institutional and political echelons have been slow to take the needed initiative. Specific weaknesses mentioned in the Report include:
- The artificial divide between defence and civil research;
- Lack of specific schemes for security research at the EU level;
- Limited co-operation between EU Member States;
- Lack of coordination of national and European efforts.
These deficiencies are said to "exacerbate the lack of public research funding and present major obstacles to delivering cost-effective solutions."
The price of security
The Report emphasises that an ESRP should not replace, nor duplicate Member States' efforts, but rather support and complement them. A Community-funded ESRP as proposed in the Report would have a minimum annual budget of €1 billion. In line with the EU's objective of raising research spending from 1.9% to 3% of EU average GDP by 2010, ESRP funding would represent an addition to that provided under the EU Research Framework Programme and national and other intergovernmental sources. This spending level would bring combined EU, national and intergovernmental security research investment closer to that of the US.
The ESRP will build upon a test phase or 'Preparatory Action" that will run from 2004 to 2006. Experience and knowledge gained from this phase will help ensure that a future Programme will be optimally designed and appropriately funded. The first call for proposals for the Preparatory Action will be published in March 2004. Over the coming year, €15 million has been allocated to fund six to eight projects and other supporting activities. The overall budget of the preparatory action amounts to €65 million.