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Our news and views

Individual articles written by SECURITY EUROPE

Ever-shifting migration patterns pose EU problem in Balkans

By AMANDA SLOWIKOWSKI, with BROOKS TIGNERBRUSSELS – While number of migrants entering Greece per day has shifted from a high of 6,000 down to a more “reasonable” level of 600, the Balkans are currently experiencing 3,000 to 4,000 people moving through their region. As winter sets in, migrants heading north through the Balkans are now turning back south toward the southern Balkans and new smuggling routes through Albania.How to combat new smuggling routes and wipe out existing ones in the region was among topics reviewed during a 1 December meeting of the European Parliament’s subcommittee on Security and Defence.“The western Balkans faces a problem that might be termed as functional disintegration,” Roderick Parkes, senior analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies, told the meeting.To break its smugglers’ networks, Parkes argues that the EU should...

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Finalisation of EU’s data protection regulation is on the horizon

By CHRIS DALBY BRUSSELS – Reform of the EU’s general data protection regulation (GDPR) is “in its very final stages”, Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality, said in remarks to the 6th Annual European Data Protection & Privacy Conference here on 10 December.The Commission proposed in January 2012 to overhaul the EU’s hugely outdated data protection rules of 1995, but the issue has been mired in political tussles among the EU’s three law-making branches. Completion of the reform has been among the Commission’s policy priorities in 2015.According to the Commission’s Justice website, the new set of rules will “give back control” to citizens over their personal data, while simplifying the regulatory environment for business and function as a key enabler for the EU’s Digital Single Market initiative.As for the timing of the reform’s finalisation, Luxembourg Minister of Justice Felix Braz, whose government has the EU’s rotating six-month presidency until 31 December, said...

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Research project confirms common security concerns of regions

By AMANDA SLOWIKOWSKIBRUSSELS – Do the “values” and perceptions of security vary substantially according to Europe’s different regions? Yes, they do though one theme seems to run in common across most of them, according to the conclusions of a recently completed security project.Funded by the EU’s previous Seventh Framework Research budget, the project known as “EvoCS” (Evolving Concepts of Security) held its final conference here in mid-November to review the results of its work. Its central aim was to provide a holistic view of security by evaluating it from four angles: core values, perceptions of security, areas of security and time.The one-day event provided an overview of security concerns, needs, and priorities across four regions of the EU: the west Mediterranean area, the EU’s eastern border region, north-western EU, and south-eastern Europe. Participants discussed not only the similarities and differences in national security approaches in the four regions but also topics relevant to policy setting in Europe as well.While security threats and perceptions of the four regions were fundamentally different, there was one topic that predominated across the board:...

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A “kamikaze” attack by swarming drones: nightmare or reality?

Europe has paid a high cost to learn that our jihadist enemies can strike everywhere, at any time. But more is likely to come and we had better be prepared to face new attack scenarios. Among the worst would be the use of multiple drones.Micro-drones are offered at very affordable prices in multimedia shops today. For example, the popular DJI Phantom 3, manufactured by China, costs only EUR 734 and can be purchased as easily as a console game. There is no identification of the buyer and, if paid with cash, there is no way to trace who bought it.Moreover, such small remotely piloted aircrafts have no transponder that allows traffic controllers to identify what is flying through the air; indeed, there’s not even an identification tag that would allow authorities to determine its origin if found on the ground.These devices are small and can be carried in a backpack. Most of their owners will use them for...

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Innovation in funding for security and defence

Innovation in security and defence usually involves new technologies or capabilities, though sometimes it concerns improvements to an organisation or its leadership. However, funding itself is almost never the subject of innovation – and yet it needs more attention in view of the continuing decline in government budgets, which affects technology and capability development programmes.Could alternative players in the economy contribute? And if so, how?Alternative sourcing is not unknown in other public or semi-public sectors such as infrastructure and healthcare. In instances where there budgets have been cut, these sectors have turned to alternative financing options to help them overcome their constraints. For example, many motorways and tunnels across Europe are now funded by banks and other investors. To make this possible, a number of...

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Update on tenders and calls-for-proposals in EU security (16/12/2015)

H2020 Security Research calls
1. Frontex: Pool of experts on automated border control (ABC) (Frontex/CEI/48/2013) Through the establishment of a pool of experts, Frontex aims to achieve the following objectives in the area of ABC:
  • develop an increasingly structured and transparent framework to facilitate access to relevant expertise in the field.
  • ensure that research conducted and activities undertaken in the field of ABC is based on complete and up-to-date evidence and presents unambiguous results.
  • support the dissemination of research and knowledge relevant to border management among interested parties.
The estimated value of this contract is EUR 120.000 Deadline: 31 December 2015 Contact: FRONTEX Email: procurement@frontex.europa.eu Call documentation and application forms can be found here

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EU Security Research Projects Awarded (16/12/2015)

1. EU-CIVCAP - Preventing and responding to conflict: developing EU CIVilian CAPabilities for a sustainable peace      The goals of preventing the outbreak of conflict and promoting sustainable peace remain a fundamental challenge to policymakers and analysts alike. The European Union and its member states require an adequate set of capabilities if they are to address this challenge in a timely and effective manner.      EU-CIVCAP will provide a comprehensive, comparative and multidisciplinary analysis of EU civilian capabilities for external conflict prevention and peacebuilding in order to identify ‘the best civilian means to enhance these capabilities’ and address existing shortfalls.      More specifically, this project has identified three inter-related objectives:(1) To assess EU civilian capabilities for external conflict prevention and peace building;(2) To identify and document lessons learned and best practices in EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding;(3) To enhance future policy practice and research on EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding.     The project will gather, synthesise, further develop and disseminate knowledge and learning on civilian conflict prevention and peacebuilding. This will be done through, inter alia, the development of a catalogue of lessons learned and best practices reports, the creation of an expert network, engagement through social media, and the organisation of dissemination events in different formats in this area.Start date: 2015-12-01 End date: 2018-12-01 Total cost: EUR 1.714.975 EU contribution: EUR 1.714.975 Project coordinator: University of Bristol, United Kingdom

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Paris attacks: the signs were there – and what lessons learnt?

By CHRIS DALBYBRUSSELS – The recent atrocities committed in Paris on the night of November 13 have shed light on the heavy participation of Belgian nationals and planning by a Belgian mastermind of the attacks. Predictably, Belgium has raised its national threat level to three, i.e. threats being “possible and probable”.But what were the advance warnings – and was there anything more police and intelligence services could have done to possibly anticipate what was about to happen? For example, there was a clue or two outside France and Belgium of what might be coming but it was not picked up on.This and other conclusions – not all of them encouraging – emerged from a snap security briefing held here on 17 November and organised by the...

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EU justice ministers to focus on deradicalisation & rehabilitation

By TERI SCHULTZ BRUSSELS – Russia’s recent entry into the Syrian civil war may not have an immediate impact on the conflict’s outcome, but the EU’s Counter-terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, says it could make a big difference in Europe.According to de Kerchove, some of the estimated 5,000 EU citizens currently fighting with the Islamic State (IS) may decide that the increased bombing means it’s time to pull out their European passports and head home.“We have so far been confronted with the return of the disillusioned ones, but not the hardcore fighters,” he says, adding that now “we may see some massive returns coming sooner than expected and we have to look at reality.”De Kerchove was just one Commission official who attended a high-level ministerial conference on the criminal justice response to radicalisation, held here on 19 October. The meeting, which included many of Europe’s justice ministers, reviewed how the EUs criminal justice systems deal with Islamist recruitment, radicalisation of citizens and the return of those from warzones with weapons experience and hatred for their homelands. The ministers agreed that more attention must be paid to working out strategies for how to deal with returnees and – especially – to come up with alternatives to...

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