Jean-Pierre Audy MEP (a French Christian Democrat and member of the conservative PPE block) has drafted a report on the “mid-term review of the 7th Framework Programme for Research” for the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

The draft report proposes:

that an ambitious European research plan for technology and defence be adopted between the Union and the Member States and receive significant initial financing from FP7 and the European Defence Agency on the basis of Article 45(d) of the EU Treaty, with a view to enhancing the industrial and technological base of the defence sector while at the same time improving the efficiency of military public spending (paragraph. 14)

The report also suggests that:

industry’s participation rates do not appear any higher than in previous FPs, particular under the ‘Cooperation’ chapter (paragraph. 15)

This is patently not the case with the EU’s Security Research Programme (ESRP), which has thus far been dominated by large multinationals from the defence industry (see the Report commissioned by the European Parliament’s Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs’ policy department, published last October).

The new draft Committee Report signals a worrying potential shift in the position of the European Parliament, which has traditionally opposed the outright militarisation of the EU.

The report also goes much further than what the European Commission apparently envisages for the next EU Framework Research programme. That is: limited cooperation between the European Defence Agency and the ESRP, which is already taking place in FP7 (for example in respect to UAVs/drones). See further the Commission’s “Background Paper” to the public consultation on security research (p.4). In contrast, the draft Audy report is much more closely aligned with the repeated demands of European defence industry lobbyists.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy is scheduled to adopt the report at “first reading” on 12 April 2011 (see EP procedure file).

The European Commission has launched a public consultation entitled ‘Unleashing the potential of Europe’s security industry’. The consultation has the clear aim of fostering support for continued EU R&D subsidies to the security industry, and extending those subsidies to ‘dual use’ (military-security) research.

According to yesterday’s Commission Press Release (14.3.2011):

The EU security industry faces a highly fragmented internal market and a weak industrial base. National regulatory frameworks and standards differ widely and the market for security products is highly diversified, ranging from cameras to complex scanner systems. Therefore, it is essential to develop a fast-track system for approval of priority technologies; to make substantial further progress on harmonisation, standardisation; to consider coordinated public procurement; and to accelerate R&D on security technologies including dual-use. To promote this industry the Commission has launched today a public consultation to invite all interested parties to share their views on the best policy measures to be taken to make Europe’s security industry a world leader.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “The security industry is an integral part of the proper functioning of our society. Therefore, the current fragmented market should be overcome. It weakens the competitiveness of Europe’s security industry and endangers its ability to provide technologies necessary to ensure the security of the European citizens. This needs to be changed.”

These assertions are at odds with research commissioned by the EU under the European Security Research Programme, which suggest that the security market is already worth between 60-100 billion Euros annually. According to the 178 page ‘Survey of the European security market‘ produced by the EUSECON project:

As we have seen, the security market in Europe cannot be considered fragmented by national borders, yet barriers exist that impede a  stronger competition such as differences in national regulations and standards and the traditional preference of national suppliers in large public purchases… A wider market will create incentives for industrial concentration to achieve a European dimension, a desirable feature since it is also recognised that the number of companies operating in the sector is often too high… The increasing competition across EU Member States will lead to the concentration of sales in the hands of the largest and more efficient firms. Such transformation could involve market restructuring.  While long-term benefits will be positive, the restructuring process may create short-term imbalances in terms of plant closures and job losses of the less efficient firms (page 163).

According to the Commission, the aim of the public consultation ‘is to provide the Commission with an overview of the perspectives of the relevant stakeholders, from public administration, to industry, NGO and citizens’. The consultation thus ‘focuses on three aspects':

  • Means to overcome the market fragmentation (i.e. certification and standardisation procedures).
  • Reinforcing the security industrial base (i.e. access to international markets, synergies between civil and military technologies and liability related issues).
  • Closer cooperation between manufacturers, system integrators, and service providers on one side and with clients on the other.
  • The societal dimension of security – i.e. ensuring the privacy compliance of security technologies (data protection).

The fourth issue – ‘societal impacts’ – was clearly inserted into the consultation documents at a rather late stage, reflecting growing disquiet both inside and outside the EU institutions about the kind of technology R&D that is being funded under the European Security research Programme.

The public consultation runs from the 14th of March to the 13th of May 2011 on the “Your Voice in Europe” website. See also background document on ‘Public Consultation on the preparation of a new Communication on an Industrial Policy for the Security Industry’.

A broader consultation on the future of the entire EU Framework Research programme was launched in February. It runs until the 20th May 2011.

In November last year, Ben Hayes of Statewatch provided written and oral testimony to the London session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

The Tribunal heard how the EU is providing research grants to Israeli military and security companies that may be complicit in Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

See the following pages for more information:

- Written evidence submitted to the London session (see page 101)
Video proceedings of the London session
– Findings of the London session

You can watch Ben Hayes’ oral testimony by clicking on the link below.

ZDNet reports that the UK Border Agency is planning a network of booths to take foreigners’ fingerprints and photos. The Home Office agency has advertised for a single contractor to provide booths that are secure and private where overseas nationals can register for biometric residence permits by having fingerprints and a photo taken.

The successful bidder will also be expected to provide services to the public, as well as scanning and sending documents and dealing with payments from applicants. Equipment to video record each applicant, back office IT systems to collate and transmit enrolment data, and document scanning will be delivered under the deal.

A tender notice in the Official Journal of the European Union says the contract will be available to other government departments and agencies, including the Home Office and the Identity and Passport Service.

The Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) industry has grown rapidly over the past decade. Private companies and state agencies are now collecting and analysing “publicly available” data on a vast scale.

This article by Ben Hayes, published in the Statewatch Journal last year, looks at the evolution, theory and practice of OSINT; its use by police and security agencies; the rapidly developing OSINT industry; the blurring of the boundaries between OSINT and covert surveillance; and the embrace of OSINT by the EU.

The full article is available here (pdf). It concludes:

Writing recently in the Guardian, Professor John Naughton observed:

[T]he internet is the nearest thing to a perfect surveillance machine the world has ever seen. Everything you do on the net is logged – every email you send, every website you visit, every file you download, every search you conduct is recorded and filed somewhere, either on the servers of your internet service provider or of the cloud services that you access. As a tool for a totalitarian government interested in the behaviour, social activities and thought-process of its subjects, the internet is just about perfect.

The present threat to civil liberties, however, comes neither from the internet nor totalitarian governments, but from a neo-McCarthyite witchhunt for “terrorists” and “radicals”, and a private security industry bent on developing the “perfect surveillance” tools to find them. For all the concern about Facebook’s privacy policy, that company is no more responsible for its users’ wishes to ‘broadcast themselves’ than travel agents are for tourism. Of course Facebook should offer maximum privacy protection for its users, but those of us concerned with freedom and democracy need to see the bigger picture in terms of who is doing the watching, how, and why. We must then develop the tools and communities needed to bring them under democratic control.

The USA’s Secure Border Initiative, a complex network of high-tech surveillance equipment to police the entire northern border (with Canada) and southern border (with Mexico), has been cancelled.

While agents in the field were said to “love the gear”, Janet Napolitano (US Homeland Security Secretary) testified before Congress that the project “has been plagued with troubles from day one… It has never met a deadline, it hasn’t met its operational capacities, and it doesn’t give us what we need to have”.

Instead of fulfilling lucrative contracts with Boeing and Raytheon, the USA will instead procure surveillance systems, UAVs, thermal imaging and other equipment from the commercial market.

Defence Industry Daily has published a detailed dossier describing all the goings on.

Further evidence of arms industry diversification into criminal intelligence and investigations as BAE Systems offers £184 million for Norkom, an Ireland-based counter-fraud and anti-money laundering solutions provider that employs around 350 people.

BAE already owns Detica, a company specialising in “collecting, managing and exploiting information to reveal actionable intelligence”.

Ian King, chief executive of BAE Systems, said: “Countering financial crime is a priority for governments and financial institutions. There is a compelling logic to the combination of Detica’s NetReveal product and the complementary capabilities and customer reach of Norkom.”

See BAE press release, 14 January 2011.

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