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Issue 8, 2nd quarter 2005

Foresighting Europe Newsletter


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Shared visions, common research futures

EU Common Foreign and Security Policy

A study on the implications of future developments in EU Common Foreign and Security Policy for Research Policy[1]

Five scenarios that illustrate threats as well as the most important key policy issues for the security of the EU until 2015 were presented 30th June 2005 in Brussels by ISIS, a consultancy network specialised in international security studies. The scenarios reflected geo-strategic regional issues, horizontal security trends in the international context, and technological security trends. They hint at prevention activities and spell out the role of science and technology. The workshop will be followed by a synthesis report in August 2005. Colleagues from External Relations DG and from Enterprise DG involved in the evolving security policies gave presentations of their present and prospective activities in the field of security in order to embed the workshop into mainstream policies of the Commission.

The five scenarios presented were the following:

(1) Nuclear explosion on Europe’s doorstep: Regional security driven threat: with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and non-nuclear actors.

Dr Ian Anthony, project leader, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Sweden, elaborated the nuclear explosive device event. The event was a garage-built type of nuclear weapon with low explosive character that however, may have a catastrophic impact and cause ten thousand casualties and mass flights to EU borders.

(2) Biological incident in Europe - Homeland security-driven threat: with a bio-terrorist element.

Dr Jean-Pascal Zanders, Director of the Bio-Weapons Prevention Project, Geneva, presented a scenario on a biological incident in Europe. He explained how an employee of a high biotech laboratory may be blackmailed and how his family members could be kidnapped in order that he releases highly infectious viruses. Dangerous substances in level 3 and 4 laboratories include diseases of humans and plants and animals indirectly dangerous for humans.

(3) Turmoil and Crisis in North East Asia- Geo-strategic driven threat.

Dr Owen Greene, Director of the Centre for International Cooperation (CICS), University of Bradford, explained benign and malign scenarios of development of turmoil and crisis in North East Asia. This first presentation of geo-strategic regional issues pointed to a high conflict potential in Asia due to population growth and resource depletion. Regions of outstanding importance are China, India and Indonesia due to their size and economic potential. Those regions also have high relevance for the European security and require a geo-strategic observation in economic, military and policy terms in order to be prepared for conflict management or conflict prevention. If for example China does not to continue fast economic growth it might develop a huge degree of strain.

(4) Turmoil in oil and gas producing regions around the Gulf of Guinea -Regional security driven threat: combining environmental and energy security elements.

Dr Michael Brzoska, Director of Research, Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC), Bonn, Germany, presented the second regional security scenario. It was on turmoil in an oil and gas producing regions around the Gulf of Guinea. This scenario insisted on failed states and on conflict management in a region that is important for Europe due to its natural resources and to the environment. S&T co-operation has to take into account the dependency on energy and its dangers that may emerge from conflicts in regions that have huge oil, gas, or water resources.

(5) Cyber warfare and new weapons - Technology driven threat: based around nano-technology.

Dr Jürgen Altman, Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC), Germany, developed a scenario based on technology around nano-technology and ICT as well as on miniaturisation. He put emphasis on cyber warfare as well as on small arms (weapons children could carry) and their proliferation in a globalised community. Horizontal security trends in the international context requires to fight against international organised crime. Areas of organised crime are drugs, weapons and particular small smart weapons, smuggling, terrorism, proliferation and money transfers. EU-25 is now more vulnerable to organised crime due to extended borders.

Preliminary conclusions for S&T policies

  • There is the broadly-shared statement shared that technologically and economically we live in a global village. However, there is no adequate institutional political response mechanism created that could react to global threats impacting at EU level due to distributed national competencies. However, the EU could make a coordinated response and the Commission should be prepared to take on board a higher degree responsibility as a supranational institution.
  • The rationale of EU competencies is dominated by economic considerations in policy areas like trade, competition and competitiveness. Recently security has emerged as another rationale. The economic globalisation and global security needs require a new agenda for S&T co-operation that goes beyond economic considerations. Security issues may in future play a role in addition to economic and humanitarian ones for S&T policy.
  • It is difficult to marry classical security analysts with S&T analysts because these communities have for a long time existed in totally separate spheres. Moreover, co-operation between economic, technological and security actors is required due to international challenges. In any case, interdisciplinary research and inter-departemental co-operation is required. Community research for civil protection, combating catastrophes as well as risk analysis in research should be fostered.
  • The EU might assess S&T strategy also from a security perspective in order to better understand which activities are beneficial to Europe under economic and security aspects. Such an assessment would attempt a better understanding of impacts of activities undertaken or omitted towards Third Countries. Particular areas of interest are nuclear, environment, energy, resource consumption, as well as high tech fields.
  • Social Sciences and Humanities should enhance the knowledge on threats for Europe, conflict prevention as well as knowledge on opportunities in terms of geo-strategic relevance in different Asian or African areas for example. Fields of analysis may be demography, migration, institutional capacities and conflicts, as well as impacts of technology transfer and crisis management.
  • Understanding the socio-economic and cultural dimension of geo-strategic threats is of high importance. However, research on that issue is poorly developed in Europe or is uneven distributed. For historical reasons, Member States focus on different areas of expertise and they do not share the knowledge and their views may be biased. Community research could foster co-operation between national institutes specialised in areas such as Arabic studies, Chinese studies, South-East Asian studies, etc.


The 10 most important policy issues for the security of the EU until 2015 according to the study:

1. The EU needs to mainstream a strong conflict prevention mechanism horizontally across all major foreign policy fields. This mechanism requires substantive analytical capacity and the technical backup in order to pursue upstream conflict prevention.

2. The EU Homeland Security agenda needs to be coherent with its foreign policy agenda. The technical capacity of both Homeland Security and foreign policy also needs to be augmented, specifically regarding intelligence sharing and retrieval. EU military capacity also needs to specialise (demarcation of tasks) and streamline (battle groups concept), while air-lift capacity needs to be strengthened dramatically.

3. Technology should become a centre-piece of EU foreign policy in the future. However, there is a need for a clear technological code of ethics which governs dual-use, safeguards individual privacy and increases necessary transparency. Also, there is a need to ensure that potentially harmful technology is kept out of the hands of terrorists and organized crime.

4. Arms Control: there is an urgent need to invest in a new generation of arms control, non-proliferation and technology experts able to understand the new scientific challenges posed by existing and emerging technological breakthroughs (across Nanotechnology, Information Technology, and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear technologies) and the means for their regulation and control through multilateral and regional frameworks.

5. There is a need for a renewed emphasis upon area studies combined with security studies/conflict studies in the social sciences to investigate the regional contextual sources of contemporary security concerns (regional security complexes, terrorism, failed states, poverty, organised crime etc).

6. There is a need to understand further the importance for EU Co-operation with key partners such as the US as well as the need for strategic autonomy in responding to contemporary and future security threats and opportunities and the future evolution of the European Security Strategy. A co-operative and synergistic approach needs to be balanced with the ability to go it alone if needed, in terms of research, technology and action.

7. There is a need to further our understanding, as the basis for developing a European strategic culture on security matters, on what a common European security and threat assessment includes and continually revisit this analysis in the face of a changing security environment and in order to deepen further our understanding of threats, risks, opportunities and common (foreign and security) policy responses.

8. State failure and disintegration, internal conflict and organised crime, could trigger major threats to European security. This is most likely to happen in the poorest area of the World, particularly in Africa and on Europe’s eastern and southern borders. Despite a recent surge in analysis, there remains a major need for further study of the causes and consequences of civil wars on the African continent. Fighting poverty and improving governance is a major security challenge for Europe.

9. It is important for the governments and public authorities to realize that counter and preventive measures must be taken long before a terrorist incident, in particular using the technologies surveyed above, occurs.

10. The security sector needs to better understand how civilian technological advances can be adapted in order to meet internal and external security needs.

[1] PLATFORM FORESIGHT Contract N° SDPF-CT-2004-00006; contractor: ISIS; scenario workshop 30.6.2005, Brussels