Politicians and industry unite over need for security research forum

A new European Security Research and Innovation Forum (ESRIF) received the backing of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the EU Member States and industry, at a conference on security research Berlin, Germany, on 26 and 27 March.

German Minister for Education and Research Annette Schavan emphasised how security has been achieved during 50 years of European unity as she made the case for security research at European level.

‘The central objective of the security forum is to develop strategic innovation partnerships with users and suppliers – that is to say, alliances between research, science, industry, operators of security-relevant infrastructures and authorities which are responsible for security in the Member States and the EU,’ explained Ms Schavan.

The development of alliances is indeed a priority. While innovative security technologies do already exist in some sectors, and are being produced by small and young companies, ‘we are still a long way from developing and exploiting these many innovative technologies to such an extent that they provide optimum protection for our freedom,’ said the minister.

Speakers also urged the private sector to become more actively involved in security research. EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, Franco Frattini, insisted that the state, the private sector and individual citizens share responsibility for securing information technology.

‘The private sector sees its interests strongly threatened by the same globalisation process which is pushing its economic growth. Private investment in innovative technologies is needed, in cooperation and in accordance with the public side,’ said Mr Frattini. The Commissioner also welcomed the pulling together of the supply and demand sides of security research within ESRIF, which, he said, should guarantee the relevance of research results and their use in policy-making.

Investing now will also reduce the likelihood of needing to introduce, for example, unpopular security measures at airports. Such measures are both unpopular and costly for business.

German businesses have already recognised the importance of investing in security, according to Ms Schavan. Some 80% of all security-relevant infrastructures are owned by the private sector in Germany, and the market for security solutions is growing by 7% to 8% annually. The German market has already reached a volume of €10 billion. ‘It is creating jobs; it is creating export opportunities. We must take advantage of these opportunities – among other things in order to safeguard freedom in Europe to the best possible extent,’ said the minister.

Both Mr Frattini and Ms Schavan linked security with freedom. Ms Schavan declared that the two go hand-in-hand and quoted the scholar Wilhelm von Humboldt, who once said: ‘Without security man is neither able to develop his strengths nor to enjoy the fruits thereof; for there is no freedom without security.’

The Commissioner pointed to the need to protect and promote human rights, and to consider the potential implications for fundamental rights of new technologies: ‘Technology can help us in defending fundamental rights – to start with our right to live in a secure environment. But I would also think of what is sometimes referred to as privacy enhancing technologies, such as systems which allow only the identification of data between specified sets, without revealing more than that.’

Security research has entered the EU domain with its inclusion in the Seventh Framework Programme for research (FP7). In making provisions to support projects on security, the EU is facilitating the development of new instruments to protect Europe’s democratic states and their citizens from threats, said Ms Schavan.

For further information on security research under FP7, please visit:
Category: General policy
Information Source: European Commission; German Government
Document Reference: Based on speeches by Franco Frattini and Annette Schavan