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Pan-European networks of practitioners and other actors in the field of security


Practitioners are invited to associate in 3 different categories of networks in the field security:

a. [2019-2020] Practitioners (end-users) in the same discipline and from across Europe are invited to get together: 1) to monitor research and innovation projects with a view to recommending the uptake or the industrialisation of results, 2) to express common requirements as regards innovations that could fill capability and other gaps and improve their future performance, and 3) to indicate priorities as regards areas requiring more standardisation. Opinions expressed and reported by the networks of practitioners should be checked against what can be reasonably expected, and according to which timetable, from providers of innovative solutions. In 2019, proposals are invited to address the specific area of handling of hybrid threats in line with the existing EU policy framework.[[The proposal should reflect the joint communication Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats – a European Union response (JOIN(2016) 18 final, 6 April 2016), while keeping in mind the Guidance note — Research with an exclusive focus on civil applications:]].

In 2020 proposals are invited to cover one of the two following options:

Option 1: security and intelligence services

The persistent terrorist threat is becoming increasingly diverse and complex. Emerging technologies add to the threat, but also provide opportunities. Security and intelligence services of EU Member States and Schengen partners are playing an important role to keep European citizens safe. European technological autonomy is particularly important in the field of intelligence. Intelligence and security services may have research needs that are different from law enforcement. Using tools based on cutting edge technology will be key to the performance of the services in the 21st century. Therefore, a network of practitioners from security and intelligence services of EU Member States, Associated Countries and, possibly, Schengen partners would be important to add this specific perspective to the identification of future research needs.

Such a network could focus on interacting with relevant existing H2020 projects to provide input and feedback, on undertaking horizon scanning to identify emerging technologies and potential new threats and on identifying requirements for future research, which could include emerging technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence. In cooperation with the Commission, working methods would be identified to protect the specific requirements of the security and intelligence services participating in the consortium. The objective would be to support the needs of the security and intelligence services of the Member States, Associated Countries for future security research programming.

Option 2: fighting cybercrime

Several initiatives have been launched to identify existing gaps, and law enforcement authorities’ needs in the area of cybercrime, to assess new threats and to develop roadmaps. This work has led to targeted research and development projects. However, in the area of cybercrime, technology and the threats scenarios evolve at such a pace that this work needs continuous updating. An accurate mapping of specific capacities in Member State authorities is still missing. Moreover, as cybercrime and crimes committed online happen without regard to borders it is necessary to identify as far as possible common challenges and solutions, so as to maximise the impact of available resources. As cybercrime investigations and digital forensics require specific expertise and tools (which are also needed for investigating crimes committed online in general), a dedicated network of practitioners, led by law enforcement experts, with a specific focus on cybercrime and more generally on the handling of digital evidence could therefore have a clear added value for assessing needs and gaps that can be tackled by capacity building including through research. In this context, the network could contribute to better prioritising and planning future EU funded research by: 1. Liaising with the relevant stakeholders in order to anticipate future capability needs and gaps in the field of fighting cybercrime; 2. Cataloguing, aggregating, processing and exploiting knowledge about current and future state of the art of technologies which can contribute to filling the capability gaps; 3. Communicating relevant findings to the relevant communities thus providing the required feedback to the research cycle, as well as to other technological capacity building initiatives launched at EU or national level.

b. [2018] Innovation clusters from around Europe (established at national, regional or local level), especially those managing demonstration sites, testing workbenches, and training facilities (including those providing simulators, serious gaming platforms, testing of PPDR applications on broadband networks) are invited to establish one network 1) to establish and maintain a roster of capabilities and facilities, 2) to organise to share expertise, 3) plan to pool and share resources with a view to facilitating access to their respective facilities among collective membership when this would constitute an economy of scale and allow a more intensive use of expensive equipment, and 4) to coordinate future developments and workbenches' acquisition.

c. [2018] Procurement agencies, or departments, active at budgeting and implementing the acquisition of security solutions at European, national, regional or local level can get together: 1) to share investment plans, 2) to compare procurement techniques and rules, and 3) to plan for common procurements of research services as well as of innovative, off-the-shelf products.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of:

  • about EUR 3.5 million per action for a duration of 5 years (recommended duration) for Parts a) and b);
  • about EUR 1.5 million per action for a duration of 5 years (recommended duration) for Part c)

would allow for this topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

In Europe, practitioners interested in the uptake of security research and innovation are dedicated to performing their duty and are focused on their tasks. In general, however, practitioner organisations have little scope to free workforces from daily operations in order to allocate time and resources to monitor innovation and research that could be useful to them. They have few opportunities to interact with academia or with industry on such issues. All stakeholders – public services, industry, academia – including those who participate in the Security Advisory Group, recognize this as an issue.

Medium term:

  • Common understanding of innovation potential, more widely accepted understanding, expression of common innovation and standardization needs among practitioners in the same discipline.
  • Greater involvement from public procurement bodies upstream in the innovation cycle.
  • More efficient use of investments made across Europe in demonstration, testing, and training facilities.

Long term:

  • Synergies with already established European, national and sub-national networks of practitioners, even if these networks are for the time being only dedicated to aspects of practitioners' work unrelated to research and innovation (in general, to the coordination of their operations).