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This page was published on 04/04/2007
Published: 04/04/2007


Published: 4 April 2007  
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Security  |  Research policy  |  Environment  |  Transport


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Security research serving citizens, enterprises and states

Security research has finally garnered the full support of the EU within the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7). Over seven years, €1.4 billion has been reserved for the security theme, the most recent addition to EU-funded research activities. At a conference in Berlin, Enterprise and Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen stated his determination to support European "lead markets" for civil security products and services to increase Europe's competitiveness. German Research Minister Annette Schavan and Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini at the same time underlined their determination to guarantee the right balance between security and freedom of Europe's citizens.

Recent attacks on public railway lines have brought security research to the fore. © Matt+
Recent attacks on public railway lines have brought security research to the fore.
Increasing the security of citizens, infrastructures and utilities, intelligent surveillance and border security, and the restoration of security and safety in times of crisis are the main priorities of the security research theme under FP7. Security research has long been subject to undisclosed activities coming under the responsibility of national defence departments, but recent developments, not least of which the terror attacks on passenger infrastructures, has brought it to the top of the policy agenda. At European level, calls for proposals for collaborative research projects and coordination and support projects for €155 million from the EU budget are presently open with a deadline set for 31 May.

"In our technology-driven world, research for civil security is becoming increasingly important for securing the freedom of citizens in Europe," said German Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan, presently also at the helm of the EU's Research Council. "We must protect against the hazards of terrorism, crime and natural disasters and at the same time consolidate freedom and the rule of law." With European Member States also putting up national security research programmes, Annette Schavan announced calls within the German national programme for civil security research, which allocates a total of €123 million over the next four years. One of the calls will deal with the protection of traffic infrastructures, while the other will address the development of new technologies for the detection of chemical, biological, nuclear, radiological and explosive substances hazardous to human health.

The world-wide market for civil contracted security services (supervision of people and utilities) has an annual growth rate of 8% with a total market volume reaching €105 billion through 2008, estimates Freedonia, a security market researcher. In 2005 in Germany alone, the market for security technologies and services accounted for some €10 billion.

Commission Vice-president Günter Verheugen, in charge of enterprise and industry, stressed that a lead market concept in the civil security area should help to increase the competitiveness of the industry. "Inefficiency and fragmentation in Europe, caused by parallel national defence sectors should not be allowed in the area of civil security research." He stressed that although civil and military use of technologies might be completely different, it would be unacceptable to not take advantage of possible synergies. "The taxpayer should not pay twice for the separate development of the same technologies in different sectors."

Europe's top consumer of security technologies, Franco Frattini, Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, welcomed the challenges and opportunities of new technologies: "Governments and law enforcing agencies must use technology to better protect citizens' security. We need at our disposal new technologies which must be as sophisticated as criminals have them." He underlined Schavan's statement that security and fundamental rights of citizens need to be balanced. "Technology can help us in defending fundamental rights – to start with our right to live in a secure environment." Frattini also reminded the 1000 participants at the Berlin conference that the European Border Fund will help Member States to invest in new security applications and systems, €1.8 billion will be available between 2007 and 2013.

Before security research became integrated into the present research programme, a so called Preparatory Action for Security Research (PASR) was jointly started in 2004 by the Research and the Information Society DGs of the Commission, then in 2005 handed over to DG Enterprise, which is also in charge of general industry policy (including the defence industry) and space policy. Between 2005 and 2006, when the first projects were funded via the preparatory action, a European Research Advisory Board (ESRAB) gave input to the Commission and Member States to formulate recommendations from research, industry and user groups for the fine print of the new security theme in FP7.

In Berlin, the Commission and the EU Presidency announced the establishment later this year of the European Security and Innovation Forum (ESRIF), a new body charged with bringing together all stakeholders in security research. The new forum, going beyond the mandate of the former ESRAB, is determined to ensure the development of security solutions which are also acceptable to citizens. "The Forum will be dialogue on security research in the light of the public." said Commissioner Günter Verheugen. "Participation of the public in security research is needed."

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See also

Security research conference
Security research on Europa
European security research in FP7
ESRAB key findings & final report, 2006
Frattini speech: "New challenges, new opportunities"
Schavan: "Forschen für die Freiheit der Menschen" (in DE)
BMBF “Security Research - Research for Civil Security”

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