After more than a year of preparation, the European Commission has taken a significant step toward promoting more dual-use applications in research in the coming years.
It and the European Defence Agency (EDA) have formally agreed to coordinate their respective research agendas in the search for capabilities and technical standards that serve both civil security and military end-users in Europe.
The two sides signed an exchange of letters on the “European Framework Cooperation” (ECA) here on 15 September. Later on the European Space Agency, based in Paris, will join the arrangement as well.
Signing for the EU, Marco Malacarne, Acting Director for Space, Security and GMES at the Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry, said “the security and defence sectors have many features in common. So it makes sense to develop standards and capabilities that serve both.”
However, he noted that technology development via EU-supported security R&D projects is only one of several ways the Commission will support Europe’s civil security stakeholder community. “There is a wide range of industrial policy initiatives we are working on such as new technical standards or ways to address market failure in the areas of technology that civil security end-users need. Those will be announced in 2012.”
Co-signatory Adam Sowa, EDA’s deputy chief executive, said the new agreement “paves the way” for new developments in the EU’s next seven-year multi-billion euro general research programme 2013, known as Horizon 2020. The current 2007-2013 budget sets aside EUR 1.4 billion specifically for security research.
In the meantime, what the new EFA agreement now allows them to do is to:
• formally consult with each other
• exchange information about their respective R&D goals
• align their agendas
• coordinate the timing of their respective calls for research topics
All the above will support the emergence of dual-use technologies and capabilities for civil and military users across the 27 EU nations.
To launch their new cooperation, the research goal of protection against CBRN threats will be the first “mature research topic” the two partners will pursue under their new EFC agreement. Other topics where the Commission and the EDA plan to coordinate their work involve unmanned aerial systems and situational awareness, which includes many technological sub-sectors involving sensors, information management and cyber-security.