Brussels, 03 Aug 2004
The Commission has received a sizeable response to its recent call for proposals for short-term security projects under the Preparatory Action on Security Research (PASR). The proposals are now being evaluated and the top-rated projects will be launched toward the end of this year. Much stronger financial support for Security Research is expected to come after 2007.
A flood of interest
- An independent panel of European experts is now evaluating the high number of responses to the European Commission's call for proposals in Security Research, in effect from 31 March 23 June 2004. Under the Commission's PASR initiative, the final 'test case' projects will run for from one to three years. Their goal is to research, validate and integrate security-oriented technologies and capabilities in five areas:
- Situation awareness
- Protection of networked systems
- Protection against terrorism
- Crisis management
- Interoperability of control and communications systems
The Commission's call prompted a flood of nearly 175 proposals from European industry and research institutes. Of these, approximately 70% are for technical mission-oriented research projects in the above-mentioned areas. The remaining 50 proposals address supporting activities, such as studies on security research road maps, analysis of human factors in the security equation, technical feasibility studies and best-practice actions.
A Europe-wide response
The 175 projects submitted reflect a widespread response across the whole of Europe, indicating the importance placed on the PASR initiative by security users and producers alike.
Large industry, public authorities, universities, research institutes and a diversity of small-to-medium-sized companies – particularly those specialising in security – all responded to the call. Participants from industry alone include the following sectors: aeronautics, information communication technologies, system integrators and defence companies. While participants from the original 15 Member States are especially well represented, a solid response from all 25 EU nations was received.
And the winners will be…?
It now falls to the independent security evaluators to filter the proposals and choose from six to eight technical projects and about five supporting activities for funding.
This will clear the way for negotiations with selected companies and institutions later this year. If all goes well, the Commission aims to sign contracts with the chosen consortia in October and November, enabling the projects launches by the end of 2004, or early 2005.
The 2004-2006 PASR initiative allocates €65 million in EU funding for the three-year projects, of which €15 million will be released in 2004. Total funding for all of the selected proposals will be approximately €300 million, including the contributions from project participants.
The successful conclusion of the projects should set the stage for a quantum leap in EU funding for security research. The Report of the Group of Personalities (GOP) for Security Research, entitled 'Research for a Secure Europe', issued on 15 March 2004, calls for at least €1 billion per year to be provided for security-related research, within the EU's Framework Research budget, starting in 2007. This emphasis on security is also mirrored in the priorities of the Commission's draft transitional budget for 2007-2013, known as the 'financial perspectives'.
Safeguarding Europe: a high political priority
Similar to the EU's other security-related initiatives, the security research test cases have a high political priority across the 25 nations. Though conceived well before the tragic loss of life in the bombings in Madrid on 11 March, they form part of the expanding list of EU policies designed to counter threats to Europe's security.
According to European Commission President Romano Prodi, speaking at the GOP Report presentation, "The events in Madrid remind us of the urgency and importance of being prepared against both old and new threats to our security. Today's report opens a new area of activity in which the added value of closer co-operation, joint efforts and increased investment at EU level is indisputable"