Speech by Mr Erkki Liikanen, Member of the European Commission, during a Dec. 17 meeting in Brussels with the European Parliament’s Sky & Space Intergroup
INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT
Thank you for the interest you have shown in the security Preparatory Action since the Commission's communication on the EU defence equipment policy of last March.
The timing of our March Communication was a function of two main elements:
--First as a result of our work on aerospace (STAR 21) we were more convinced than ever that the Union had to move forward on coordinated defence procurement if the long term competitiveness of many high tech industries in Europe was to be secured.
Second, there appeared to be a greater openness in the debate on defence issues which till very recently had been seen as exclusively a matter for Member States.
The Preparatory Action can be seen as a measured input from the Commission helpful in advancing discussion and action on the principal issues.
Today's meeting however, is specifically focussed on the first point: security research.
Events have pushed Security to the top of the political agenda both in Europe and across the globe.
Nevertheless, the bare fact is that taken all together, EU Member States invest less than half the amount of the US in defence, whilst only achieving 1/5 of the capabilities.
There is no coherent European approach to Security-related research today. Some Member States directly fund security-related research while yet more is derived from joint programmes involving groups of Member States.
Council, Parliament and industry have, on several occasions, encouraged the Commission to undertake action in the field of Security RTD.
The March Communication itself was, of course, deliberately prudent, taking account of sensitivities on the issue. In some cases where a Community dimension would clearly help, for example on security research and on the internal market, we made specific proposals; in other areas, for example on the agency question, we assisted in the debate in Council.
The production of defence equipment is, like any industrial activity, subject to pressure from economic factors. However, in Europe, defence activities do not benefit from the same conditions to adapt to economic changes compared to the civil area that operates in the single market. Member States have maintained national controls resulting in the absence of a single European market for defence products.
Yet it is acknowledged that securing a competitive technological and industrial base is essential for a European Security and Defence Identity and therefore for the achieving the objectives of a Common and Foreign Security Policy - CFSP.
The conjunction of growing economic pressure (defence budgets reduction in particular) and the progressive development of the CFSP led the Commission to adopt Communications (in 1996, 1997 and 2003) advocating the urgent need for restructuring European defence related industries and for creating a single market for defence products.
A number of concrete actions were proposed in this communication in two main areas, namely:
--on security and defence-related research to launch a Preparatory Action to enhance the European industrial potential in the field of security research and prepare for a security research programme,
--on actions aimed at developing a European Defence Equipment Market as measures to simplify intra-community transfers of defence equipment, improving export control of dual use goods, harmonisation of standardisation and of procurement practices suitable for use in defence contracts.
The European Council decided to create in 2004 a European Defence Agency, following the decision of the Thessaloniki European Council. The Commission has expressed its willingness to play an active role in its establishment.
THE PREPARATORY ACTION
The preparatory action on security research is based on the conclusions of March Communication, and the Parliament is expected to vote tomorrow on the 2004 budget of 15 million euros. The Preparatory Action on security research would contribute to the improvement of the European citizens' security and to the reinforcement of European technological and industrial potential.
Interservice consultation will be finished in December and the Commission adoption is foreseen to take place in January-February.
This Preparatory action constitutes an important first step in addressing a fundamental need for Community action but also in preparing the future:
--It will support a limited number of mission-driven test cases (projects) that will complement and build on existing research projects and studies undertaken already at European, regional, national and intergovernmental levels.
--This will provide an opportunity to explore the conditions and mechanisms for creating a more favourable environment for scientific, technological and industrial competitiveness in the security field in Europe.
--It will establish a consultation and consensus-building platform with the relevant stakeholders, in line with similar activities in aeronautics.
--This activity will aim to develop a long-term vision and strategic agenda in security-related research.
--As part of the process, a high-level "Group of Personalities" including CEOs from industry and research institutes, high level European political figures, members from the European Parliament and observers from intergovernmental institutions, has been established.
--This group will elaborate a vision and propose a basis for establishing the future requirements of EU Security RTD and the contribution that could be made to addressing the new security challenges in a changing world.
Five priorities have been identified for this first phase:
--Improving situation awareness,
--Optimising security and protection of networked systems,
--Protecting against terrorism (including bio-terrorism and incidents with bio-chemical and other substances),
--Enhancing Crisis Management (including evacuation, search and rescue operations, active agents control and remediation),
--Achieving interoperability and integrated systems for information and communication.
The Preparatory Action will also pilot the conditions and arrangements needed for effective co-operation between national research programmes in the field of global security while developing a long-term vision and a common Strategic Research Agenda in this area.
All circumstances are combined to make the most of this Preparatory Action:
--the sine qua non for competitive industry is strong underlying research,
--there is a need to benefit from cross-fertilisation between civil and security research. Clear examples of very successful dual-use technologies are: transformation of the US Security Communities ARPAnet into the world's Internet; the mouse; GPS; Fibre optic Communications; Web search engines; "ambient intelligence",
--our competitors and particularly the US continue to increase their research spend: we simply cannot afford to fall any further behind.
To ensure success, the Commission is continuously consulting stakeholders in industry, research, as well as representatives from Member States.
In addition, the launching of the Preparatory Action is a contribution to the Initiative for Growth by providing an opportunity to reinforce European technological and industrial potential in this area.
The budget for 2004 of the Preparatory Action is limited (15 million euros to be voted tomorrow).
With the enthusiastic efforts of industry, research and security customers we expect high quality proposals. A careful selection will enable demonstration of the necessity and viability of significant mission oriented Research programme, separate from the current Framework research.
It will also allow the development of a well thought through content for such a programme, together with efficient procedures for its implementation.
I would like to thank you for your support up to now and I am confident that we will have a fruitful exchange of ideas on the subject. This is of course only a first step towards the future European Security Research Programme and we hope that we can rely on you and or on your successors in this assembly for developing this long-term vision.