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Security Research project workshop reviews CBRN research innovation challenges for end-users; explores the EU’s growing internal-external CBRN links

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The EU’s efforts to promote consistent chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear (CBRN) counter-proliferation R&D both within and beyond the EU was the focus of diverse views of a recent Security Research workshop in Brussels.  Discussion among its research participants was especially lively when considering how to fill the EU’s future “external” CBRN research gaps with partner countries.

The topic’s complexity was debated during a 25 April roundtable entitled, “The External Dimension of Security: EU Science and Technology”. The event was organised by the Security Research project known as ARCHIMEDES.

A 36-month project launched in January 2012, ARCHIMEDES has a budget of EUR 1.54 million, of which the EU contributed 88 percent (EUR 1.35 million).

The workshop participants examined how the links between the EU’s internal and external security prerogatives are growing. They pointed to the need for the EU’s next seven-year research budget, known as Horizon 2020, to support more research into the internal-external security continuum.

One example of such a linkage is the EU’s CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence (CoE) initiative. Launched in 2010 by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre, the initiative is promoting international and regional strategies in CBRN risk mitigation via the creation of local CoEs across seven regions, ranging from North Africa and the Middle East to Eastern Europe and the Caucasus to Southeast Asia.

A Commission official at the roundtable explained that the mitigation initiative covers infrastructure, project funding and tools to help the regions implement national action programmes, and improve their awareness of CBRN issues. Its priorities are diverse: risk mitigation and preparedness relating to CBRN materials or agents, trafficking, terrorism and organised crime, threats to critical infrastructures and major public health and, finally, industrial and national disasters.

Participants at the ARCHIMEDES meeting warned, however, that the same fragmentation that dogs Europe’s own CBRN research sector presents the same challenge for its CBRN research partners abroad. “You would need to gather them [the external CBRN experts] in one place to work together and tackle the issues by priority,” said one researcher. “This would also help address the problem of standardisation.”

Meanwhile, other participants called for better assessment of internal CBRN-related projects funded by the EU, arguing for more detailed evaluations of project results and how they could be applied in operational settings under different scenarios. “This would be extremely beneficial for end-users”, said one Belgian researcher.

For information about ARCHIMEDES, see: www.eos-eu.com

For information about the EU’s CBRN risk mitigation projects, see: http://www.cbrn-coe.eu/

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