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Commission wants bigger share of security technologies market

The European Commission has come up with an action plan to help the continent’s security industry develop more and better technologies to deal with natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

The EU security industry is worth between €26 billion and €36.5 billion and employs an estimated 180,000 people. However, the current market for security products and services is highly fragmented. The Commission says its first priority is to develop harmonised standards and certification procedures, which will help create a strong internal market.

Two pieces of legislation are being proposed as a first step towards harmonisation. One will establish an EU-wide certification system for airport screening equipment and a second will create common standards for alarm systems.

The security industry creates products and systems for a range of applications including aviation, maritime and border security; protecting infrastructure such as buildings, and counter-terror intelligence (including cyber security). Products from security companies range from sophisticated software to protective clothing.

As there is overlap in many areas with the defence industry, another goal of the action plan will be to exploit what the Commission calls potential synergies between civil and military research.

Yet another goal will be to reduce the time required to commercialise developments in security technologies. The Commission says it wants to use funding schemes proposed in the Horizon 2020 programme for pre-commercial procurement, to test and validate results stemming from EU security research projects. This approach it says should unite industry, public authorities and end users. The Commission sees border security and aviation security as two of the most promising areas, it said in a statement.

Antonio Tajani, the Commission vice-president with responsibility for enterprise and entrepreneurship, said the initiative would strengthen European competitiveness in a global market.

“This lack of an EU brand is especially critical as the future key markets for security technologies will not be in Europe but in emerging countries. Today we have agreed a blueprint for the creation of a true internal market for security technologies. This is essential to strengthen the position of our security industry, so that it can contribute to growth and jobs,” he said.

The Commission says it is concerned about the impacts of new security technologies on society and is proposing to carry out research in this area.

To monitor the implementation of proposed policy measures and bring together all relevant organisations in the field of security field, the Commission says it plans to set up dedicated expert group which will meet at least once a year.

The Commission’s plan was published on 30 July.