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EU, national and industry officials mull how to promote stronger R&D links between civil security and defence sectors Published on: 22/03/2013

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MADRID – Research complementarities have slowly but steadily grown between Europe’s civil security and defence sectors during the EU’s 2007-2014 Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). But how to accelerate this during the EU’s next “Horizon 2020” research budget for 2014-2020 – and what should be the R&D priorities that benefit both sides?

“Dual-use” applications and other aspects of civil security R&D were the focus of two days of discussions organised by the European Commission and its Security Research policy unit of DG-ENTR during Spain’s biannual “HOMSEC2013” security trade fair, which took place here on 12-15 March.

In a video address to the security event, Krzysztof Lisek, Polish member of the European Parliament and deputy chair of the EP’s Security and Defence sub-committee, underlined the crucial role that dual-use research will play in Horizon 2020.

“The growing impact of the financial crisis in Europe means there is a growing need to hike the complementarities between security and defence,” Lizek said in his opening keynote speech to the event on 12 March.

“We need a specific focus on security and defence research in future Framework Research programmes.  Not only would this help bring together dispersed national research funds but it would bridge the defence-security capability gaps we have in Europe and thus strengthen its industrial base. The idea of developing dual-use applications via EU funding is an innovative approach and all the member states need to reap benefits from this,” he said. “I strongly urge the Commission and the EDA [European Defence Agency] to continue their work in this regard.”

The Commission and the defence agency have been formally coordinating their respective research agendas since September 2011 in the area of CBRN when they signed their European Framework Cooperation (EFC) agreement.  .

“Civil security and defence already have a fruitful cooperation via the EFC. If you look at all the security-related projects of FP7, you will see quite a few that involve military participants, which is fine as long as the end-goal of the project is to develop civil security-oriented technologies,” Marco Malacarne, head of the security policy unit within DG-ENTR, told his Madrid audience. “We need to follow this same idea in Horizon 2020 where defence technologists join research consortium to develop things that are useful for the civil world.”

Speaker Inge Ceuppens, an R&T programme manager at the EDA, said “we coordinate a lot with the Commission already on CBRN, underwater research, explosives’ detection, micro-electronic sensors and – soon – cyber-research. We hope that Horizon 2020 will further broaden the way for this kind of cooperation.”

Business speakers at the event were not short of ideas about where the EU should focus its dual-use policy efforts.

Luis Gimeno, director of business development at EADS-CASSIDIAN Spain, said “I can think of three areas where the development of dual-use requirements and standards are immediately needed: border control, crisis management and CBRN threats,” he said, referring to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents. “And you should definitely add RPAS [remotely piloted aerial systems] to your list as well.”

Malacarne welcomed Gimeno’s comments and encouraged others to step forward. “We think there are possibilities to combine [technical] requirements at the level of basic research for the two sectors.  This means cooperating with the EDA, for example, to look at future technologies whose applications for either civil security or defence are still unknown. We seek ideas from all stakeholders on how to make this more productive in the years to come,” he said.