Press Release

Space researchers respond to EU Security initiative

By SpaceRef Editor
April 26, 2004
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The EU’s new Security Research initiative has stimulated interest among many of the aerospace sector’s most noted players.

The EU Information Day on the ‘Preparatory Action on the enhancement of the European industrial potential in the field of Security Research’ (PASR 2004), held in Brussels on 25 March 2004, attracted over 400 participants from research and academic institutions and industry. Many of the attendees represented groups from the space and aeronautics sectors.

Presenters from the likes of ONERA, Thales, BAE Systems and EADS outlined their ideas on how to move forward on European Security, but potential call responders also included many smaller groups such as Belgium’s Verhaert and FAV in Germany, as well as a large number of parties from associated and new European Member States.

The turnout among the aerospace community should come as no surprise. The ‘Group of Personalities in the field of Security Research’, whose Report ‘Research for a Secure Europe’, argues for the establishment of a major European Security Research Programme (ESRP) beginning in 2007, includes members representing a number of important space interests. Among them is European Space Agency (ESA) Director Jean-Jacques Dordain.

Space and Security interlinked

Speaking to journalists earlier this year, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said, “The fact that Mr. Dordain himself is part of the high-level Group of Personalities now developing a European Security Research programme is a clear sign of the importance we attach to space in this area. Europe has long been handicapped due to the fact that security has been a ‘no-go’ area for us.”

Indeed, the distinction between defence-related and civil space systems would seem to make little sense today. Earth observation satellites, for example, have obvious applications in both arenas. The GMES programme, developing Earth observation technologies, will be of great importance in both civil and defence realms. GALILEO is another space technology with great security impact. In fact, say experts, any number of programmes now on the way promise dual-use capabilities.

In the US, defence is the main driving force behind the development of space systems that offer important civil benefits. For Dordain, Europe looks more and more likely to move in that direction in the near future, funding systems through its civil institutions that can play a major role in European security and defence.

A starting point for Security Research

The Preparatory Action on Security Research will provide a total of €65 million from 2004-2006. Under the first call for proposals, published at the end of March 2004, €15 million has been allocated to fund six to eight projects and other supporting activities over the coming year.

Speaking at the Security Research Information Day, Herbert von Bose, Head of Unit for Security Research at DG Research, said, “We realise that this is not an enormous sum of money and we are only selecting a small number of projects under the first call, but we consider this a starting point. Until now, there has not been a lot of networking on security at the European level. As we move forward we will be providing more funding for more projects under future calls, so this is a very important first exercise.”

Proposed projects and actions should be mission-oriented and should lead to tangible results. Five priority areas have been defined as:

  • Improving situation awareness;
  • Optimising security and protection of networked systems;
  • Protecting against terrorism;
  • Enhancing crisis management;
  • Achieving interoperability and integrated systems for information and communication.

SpaceRef staff editor.