EU’s Security Research Conference fostered intense networking and debate over future thrust of Commission-funded security projects
The EU concluded its fifth annual “SRC'10” security research conference on 24 September in Ostend, Belgium. Co-hosted by the Commission and the EU’s Belgian Presidency, the three-day event brought together government, industry, academia and civil society experts from across Europe who reviewed the current status of EU-supported security research projects, where the EUR 1.4-billion programme is headed for the remainder of its 2007-2013 duration and what may unfold for EU security research beyond 2013.
Step-changes in its funding, policy and raison d’être lie ahead for EU-funded Security Research, participants learned at SRC'10. With three years to go, the programme is now preparing to finance its first large-scale technology demonstration projects in mass urban transport and maritime border surveillance – two areas that will further strengthen the security of Europe’s citizenry.
Big policy changes are in the wind, too. “We need a European industrial policy to support the security sector,” Antonio Tajani, European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, told his SCR10 audience. Noting that he will issue a policy paper in the second half of 2011 on the subject, Tajani envisions support for the sector in four areas, namely:
- - innovation
- - standardisation and certification
- - pre-commercial procurement
- - dual-use synergy with defence R&D
These would also support the Lisbon Treaty’s call for a stronger EU foreign, security and defence policy by helping link the Union’s internal civil security goals to its external security mission needs. Indeed, the Commission is already preparing for that eventuality as seen in its latest fourth annual security research work programme whose topics include humanitarian demining technologies and unmanned search-and-rescue solutions, for example. As Paul Weissenberg, DG-ENTR’s head of space and security policy, told the conference: “Many of the research goals in this year’s work programme are a direct reflection of this new-found European ambition.”
Finally, though the crowd at SRC'10 was slightly smaller than in previous years at around 500 people, this proved to be a positive factor during its workshops and especially during breaks when all attendees mingled in the same centralised lobby area. “Networking here was intense this year because we could all see and find each other easily,” one German researcher said. “This was a workable size for finding potential project partners.”
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