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Our news and views

Individual articles written by SECURITY EUROPE

EU’s support for defence research discreetly gets off the mark

By BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – The EU’s ambitious plan to enter the field of defence research, with all that implies for policy and capability development, quietly shifted into gear in mid-April as the European Commission nailed down the plan’s legal and budgetary details, and its first year’s tendering intentions. The dual-use ramifications of this are significant, since nearly all of the defence research and development projects to be supported by the plan – and future EU spending in this arena – could be spun out to civil security applications as well.Little noticed by the press, the decision was signed into law on 11 April by...

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European Commission, commercial operators grappling to regulate low-flying drones as recreational users multiply

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – Around 10,000 international flights a day pass through global skies, but the traffic high above our heads may soon be obscured by a dense swarm of buzzing drones. While manned aircraft numbers grow by 750 a year, the number of drones — formally known as remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) — mushrooms by 150,000 a year, with over four million already in the sky.In this increasingly clouded airspace, close-calls and even collisions between manned and unmanned craft may be inevitable. In 2015, airline pilots reported...

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Drones in cities: balancing big benefits against real dangers

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – The mainstream media may have missed it, but an extraordinary event recently occurred in aviation history.From mid-March to early April, Swiss Post and drone developer Matternet completed 70 test flights of a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) between two hospitals over the city of Lugano, Switzerland. The drones flew a bit less than two kilometres, a bit beyond an operator’s line-of-sight, and carried laboratory samples. The flight was automated, although a remote pilot remained on stand-by in case of a malfunction.Aviation observers believe these flights may have been among the world’s...

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Private security companies are now in EP’s sights for regulation

By BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – Private security companies (PSCs) have posed a dilemma to Europe for years. On the one hand, they are heavily used abroad in conflict zones as a cost-effective supplement to military forces and for the provision of logistical services. Moreover, the EU itself is one of their biggest customers, using them to provide on-site facility and personnel protection for its consulates and security missions.On the other hand, PSCs’ uneven regulation across Europe and their low levels of accountability and transparency once deployed abroad are factors that leave many EU policymakers uncomfortable. So far, international attempts to regulate PSCs have fallen short of binding rules, though voluntary ones do exist such as the International Code of Conduct (ICoC) for PSCs sponsored by the International Red Cross and the Swiss government.After years of watching the European Commission soft-pedal the issue, the European Parliament has had enough. In a move to regulate the sector, its...

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Journey without end: if human smuggling and high migrant flows are here to stay, as some surmise, then what policy implications?

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – In its latest annual risk analysis, Frontex – the EU’s border and coast guard agency – estimates that 382,000 people migrated to EU member states in 2016. That is down from 2015’s record number, but it remains huge by historical standards. In addition, 181,459 people arrived in Italy, or 18 percent more than in 2015, with big increases in flows from West Africa.Will these migrant flows ever go down? Or will they continue, putting pressure on European borders and national European politics for years to come?According to one group, the answer is...

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Organised crime developing new skills – and worrisome alliances

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – Earlier this month, Europol released its Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) for 2017. Its conclusions were stark. Technological expertise — particularly in the cyber-domain — is helping organised criminals do more, and do it better.According to the SOCTA, their profits now rival those of multinational corporations. European authorities are investigating some 5000 groups, with an untold number of these operating undetected.In addition, organised crime groups have built impressive synergies between their operations and other illegal activities, says Europol. Ominously, it means these groups can ‘plug in’ their services to...

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An opportunity missed: EU project asked potential migrants what they need at home so they don’t become migrants abroad

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – In 2017, the European Union will spend billions of euros on the migration and refugee crisis. This vast sum funded refugee resettlement, enhanced border protection, counter terrorism, migrant integration, and critical infrastructure protection. Yet however worthy its purpose, this money will not the incentives that propel migrants to embark on a perilous journey to Europe, across thousands of kilometres of often lawless territory at the mercy of odious smugglers.Thus, would it not be wiser — and possibly cheaper — to fund projects that allow migrants to stay where they are? After all, what use is border protection if migrants keep finding ways around it?That was a central question posed by the EU-funded project known as...

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Transatlantic security now requires a more balanced relationship

Euro-View: Marietje Schaake on transatlantic relations Where Russia’s new assertiveness has revived the lost art of Kremlinology, the election of a new President to the White House has spawned the science of Trumpology. Analysts watch Donald Trump’s every move, trying to discern whether changes to the National Security Council mean a change of policies, or if a tweet by the …

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Update on tenders and calls-for-proposals in EU security (18/04/2017)

1. Study on the Evaluation of Risks of Cyber Incidents and on the Costs of Preventing Cyber Incidents in the Energy Sector The European Commission and DG Energy (ENER) are looking for contract services to study the cyber threats facing the energy sector. The study will additionally conduct analysis on the security and response measures that are already in place …

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