EU research to protect critical infrastructure

The Commission calls for better public and private sector co-operation to protect critical infrastructure, such as nuclear power plants and vital transport and information networks, from terrorist attacks.

“We need better protection for critical infrastructures in Europe. The majority of them are owned by private undertakings and we need to work in close partnership with them,” said Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini in the European security research conference on 26 March 2007. He added that the Commission was expecting a swift adoption of the proposed Directive concerning the protection of European critical infrastructures, put forward in December 2006 (see EURACTIV 13 December 2006).

“Our modern industrial society is swathed in dense infrastructure networks which enable and provide mobility, energy and free flows of information. We depend on the smooth functioning of all these networks,” said German Research Minister Annette Schavan. “Natural disasters, major technological incidents or terrorist attacks could cause serious damage to these dense ICT, transport, energy and financial services networks and “possibly even destabilise our societies”. 

The conference also showed broad support for the establishment of a European Security Research and Innovation Forum (ESRIF), consisting of some 50-70 public- and private-sector experts in the field of security. Its aim will be to undertake overall strategic thinking related to security, beyond the official security research programme of the EU’s 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7). 

“By bringing together the supply and demand sides of security research and innovation, the forum should ensure the relevance of research results and their use in policymaking,” said Frattini. 

The conference also marked the official launch of the European Security Research Programme under FP7, as the first call for a proposal was launched in December 2006. 

Security research is now an integral part and an independent thematic research area in a an EU research framework programme – some €1.4 billion has been earmarked under this heading for the period 2007-2013.

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