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
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.
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."