Brussels, 30 Mar 2004
Over 400 participants attended the Information Day on the 'Preparatory Action on the enhancement of the European industrial potential in the field of Security Research' on 25 March 2004 in Brussels.
The Information Day was the result of the joint efforts of the Research and Information Society Directorates General (DGs), reflecting the dual sponsorship of the Preparatory Action.
"We are happily surprised by the number and diversity of attendees here today," said Jacques Bus, Head of Unit at DG Information Society for Security Research. "The focus today is on building a community that will take us into the full-scale Security Research programme of the future." Herbert von Bose, Head of Unit for Security Research at DG Research said, "We hope to come out of this meeting with a much clearer idea of how this Preparatory Action will be implemented, how and in what areas we can work together."
In the first part of the meeting, representatives of the European Commission brought participants up to speed on various aspects of the Preparatory Action, including its main objectives, the work programme and rules of participation.
Peter De Smet from DG Research said, "Ensuring the security of European citizens requires a strong EU security industry and the establishment of synergies between public and private, and civil and military sectors." He then explained the work of the Security Group of Personalities and how the Preparatory Action fits in with other EU research initiatives. Representatives of DG Environment and DG Justice and Home Affairs presented their own perspectives as potential end users of security-related methods and technologies.
What's on offer
The Preparatory Action will provide a total of €65 from 2004-2006. Under the first call for proposals, set for publication in April 2004, €15 million has been allocated to fund six to eight projects and other supporting activities over the coming year.
"We realise that this is not an enormous sum of money and we are only selecting a small number of projects under the first call," explained von Bose, "but we consider this a starting point. Until now, there has not been a lot of networking on security at the European level. As we move forward we will be providing more funding for more projects under future calls, so this is a very important first exercise."
Proposed projects and actions should be mission-oriented and should lead to tangible results. Five priority areas have been defined as:
- Improving situation awareness;
- Optimising security and protection of networked systems;
- Protecting against terrorism;
- Enhancing crisis management;
- Achieving interoperability and integrated systems for information and communication.
"Remember," said von Bose, "we are looking for solid results. This is a 'Preparatory Action', whose ultimate objective is to prepare the way for a much larger Security Research Programme, starting in 2007. If we can produce positive and concrete results now, it will be much easier to get the support we need for a more ambitious programme in the future."
Brokerage event and forum
The rest of the day, as described by Jacques Bus, featured "short presentations and long coffee breaks", with lots of time for attendees to say hello, get to know each other and talk about their ideas. Six brokerage sessions addressed each of the research priorities and the supporting activities, giving selected participants the chance to introduce themselves and briefly describe their ideas on possible research topics.
Among the bright lights in attendance were representatives of Europe's leading industrial, research and academic security players. Former Austrian Defence Minister Helmut Krünes, now representing the Austrian Research Centres, said, "Security is a topic of great interest to everyone and there has been a lot of excellent research carried out within the Member States, but, until now, there has been very little co-operation between us. Europe has simply not been oriented in this direction. This is the start of a different approach."