MADRID – What kind of industrial policy does the EU need to help consolidate and support Europe’s security market, and what does industry expect from this in the future?
While the Commission is reviewing a wide range of options, the views of policymakers and industry converged on what the top priority should be.
“The most urgent of these industrial policy actions is certification and standardisation,” Marco Malacarne, head of Security Research and Industry at the Commission, told a 12-13 March workshop here organised by DG Enterprise & Industry. The “Security Research Event” took place during Spain’s biannual HOMSEC security-defence industry trade fair.
“This issue has many implications – for our internal security market and for the strength of our exports in the sector,” he said, adding that the Commission has identified three civil security sub-sectors that demand immediate attention: border security, crisis management response capabilities and protection against CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive) threats.
Industrialists in the room strongly agreed.
“No matter what the security sub-sector in Europe, it is fragmented and we find it difficult to understand why this has to be an obstacle,” Marc Chabaud, president of Euralarm, the pan-European association of alarm system manufacturers in Brussels, told the workshop audience. “It takes five-to-six years to get a standard in Europe, but in China they do it in six months!”
Noting that the cost of certifying a simple fire alarm system across the 27 EU countries is 30 percent of its final cost, Chabaud said “most of our members are SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] and you can well imagine that they do not have the means to certify and sell outside their national market. This has got to change if we want growth across all the sector.”
Speaker Luis Gimeno, director of business development at EADS-CASSIDIAN Spain, said the Commission should add a fourth sub-sector to its targeted areas for certification and standardisation: remotely piloted air systems (RPAS).
“The RPAS market is highly fragmented,” said Gemino. “There are 400 projects in some 20 Member State, each with its own roadmap. Europe is still a decade or more behind US and Israel, and we are going to experience strong competition from US companies in the near future if we don’t get our own house in order.”
Another strategic industrial policy option which the Commission is mulling is how to expand the use of “pre-commercial procurement” (PCP) for the EU’s next 2014-2020 operating period. PCP entails a partnership between governments and industry whereby the former purchases and tests the latter’s equipment for a limited period, before throwing open future procurement to the market as a whole. This has been applied in limited ways so far, namely in Europe’s ICT sector.
“There have been some difficulties in getting this off the ground in our sector. It was modeled after what DG-Connect has done but in the ICT area, but it needs to be further modified to make it more applicable to security,” said speaker Luigi Rebuffi, head of EOS, the European Organisation for Security, the sector’s lobby in Brussels.
Malacarne responded that the Commission sees PCP “as a way to support the demand side versus the supply side of the security sector – particularly for agencies responsible for [civil security] procurement. This is not so easy because it involves research institutes and others who are not accustomed to this idea. It will take time to demonstrate the benefits.”