The European Commission has kick-started the development of a European security research programme. A group of selected personalities from industry, government and academia gathered today at the invitation of Commissioners Philippe Busquin and Erkki Liikanen to define a European agenda for security research and spearhead the development of a research programme by 2006. In a first phase, the group will advise the Commission on the implementation of a preparatory action for security research for which € 65 million has been proposed for 2004 - 2006. The preparatory action and the future programme should enhance the EU's scientific and technological capabilities for ensuring the security of European citizens. At the same time, it should give a boost to European industry and research.
"Europe is paying a very high price for the artificial, and uniquely European, separation between civil and military research", said European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. "New and more sophisticated security threats, combined with an increasing aspiration from citizens for security, require us to adopt a more structured and European approach to security research. We should be able to foster co-operation between the traditionally distinct sectors of civil and security research by focusing on how to best ensure the security of citizens in an enlarging European Union and a globalising world."
European Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen said: "Taxpayers should get the most out of the investment they make in security. It is crucial for both civil and defence sectors of the economy that we create an environment in which European defence-related companies can give better value for money by increasing their competitiveness. More focus on better and more efficient defence research is crucial. This would also benefit the civilian sector. The Internet, the "Windows-icons-pointer" interface and GPS are all systems that were originally financed by American military research. In Europe we invest less than the United States, and this gap is accentuated by the and fragmentation and compartmentalisation of European defence research. I believe that today's initiative is a crucial step towards addressing this issue."
Protecting Europe's citizens
Recent public opinion polls show that European citizens expect government to take a more international approach when it comes to their security and are increasingly in favour of the development of a common European Defence Policy. Council, Parliament and industry have repeatedly encouraged the Commission to undertake actions that would strengthen Europe's long-term security capabilities.
Following its March 2003 Communication, "Towards an EU Defence Equipment Policy" which called for the establishment of a European defence equipment market(1), the Commission invited Member States, industry and the scientific community to help identify common needs and pool know-how and investment to develop technologies critical for Europe's security.
The "Group of Personalities" will help to establish the vision and aims of European security research. The Commission plans to launch a "Preparatory Action" or pilot phase in the field of security research, for which a total budget of €65 million has been proposed over three years . This initial phase will help explore the development of a long-term strategy and form the basis of a future EU security research programme.
Following the adoption of the Commission's Security Research Communication "Towards a programme to advance European security through Research and Technology" planned for the end of 2003, the "Preparatory Action" and the first calls for proposals are on track to be launched in 2004. The Group of Personalities will report their conclusions by early spring 2004.
(1)COM (2003) 113 (01) COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS EUROPEAN DEFENCE - INDUSTRIAL AND MARKET ISSUES Towards an EU Defence Equipment Policy