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Public and private civil security stakeholder mull the research priorities for the EU’s next general research budget

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What should the priorities be for security research and innovation as we gaze into the future? With the EU’s current seven-year Security Research and Innovation (SRI) programme coming to a close by end-2013, how to shape its successor programme within the EU’s next general research budget, known as Horizon 2020? The latter will cover 2014-2020.

While the final shape and size of Horizon 2020 as a whole is still in the making, it is not too early to begin gathering ideas for the kind of research topics that the next SRI may wish to support. This central question was the focus of discussions during a special public-private sector dialogue that took place in Brussels on 19 March.

Partly supported by the European Commission and involving participants from EU institutions and industry, the event’s 70 stakeholders reviewed a wide range of research policy challenges facing society.

Tunne Kelam, Estonian Member of the European Parliament, stressed the need for vigorous investment in security capabilities for society.  Noting that security was  “crucial for European society”, he told the group that investment in new technologies “will decide who will take the lead at global level” in the sector.

Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, pointed to many security challenges once Horizon 2020 is implemented.  These include: how to improve the ability of public end-users to express their SRI needs; the need to boost “privacy-by-design” regarding security services and goods; improving the EU’s policy links between its internal and external dimensions to security; and the role of industry in facilitating dialogue between the private sector and public authorities in areas such as critical infrastructure protection.

Industry representatives in the room suggested new research topics covering urban security and smart cities, for example, while calling for better and harmonised operational requirements from public authorities. They also said simplified rules for implementing EU-funded research and innovation and the definition of “technology roadmaps” would better link future projects to objectives.

Other topics discussed during the meeting were:

  • new approaches to bring research results closer to the market
  • cyber security
  • the societal dimension to security
  • enhance standardisation for industry and interoperability between end-users
  • resilience to crises and disasters
  • border management and maritime security
  • how to better fight organised crime and terrorism

Marco Malacarne, head of unit for Security Research and Industry at the Commission, said “the next Security research programme will strengthen the aquis of Fp7 and extend it to new areas like e.g. Cyber-security and 'dual-use' technologies. Cooperation with relevant EU Agencies (EDA, Frontex, Europol, etc.) will also be reinforced, notably by placing end-users at the heart of research actions”.

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