Auteur: Nikolaj Nielsen
BRUSSELS - At a Strasbourg plenary assembly in early September, Greek conservative MEP Maritta Giannakou stood up and pledged her support for the EU defence and security industry.
Giannakou had just tabled her report, up for plenary vote the next day, on the state of play and future prospects for the EU’s military structures.
The text gave a bleak prospect of EU military capabilities and called on member states to reverse the “irresponsible trend” of slashing national defence budgets.
“Cuts in defence budgets means that co-ordination and pooling and sharing of capabilities is needed. In order to achieve this objective, the European Organisation for Security could participate and this is why we have to support this organisation,” she said in her opening statements at plenary last Wednesday (11 September).
Giannakou proceeded to hammer out the reasons to save Europe from grave threats and the need to set up permanent structures to co-ordinate integrated military operations from a floor inside the European External Action Service.
Her open endorsement of the European Organisation for Security (EOS) points to the close working relationship between EU lawmakers and the defence industry.
EOS is a Brussels-based non-profit outfit that represents the business interest of some of the EU’s most powerful and largest security and defence companies.
BAE Systems, EADS, Finmeccanica, G4S, Thales and 38 other companies are listed as members. Collectively, they employ some 2 million people and have cornered around 65 percent of the European security systems market, which they want to increase by exerting pressure on EU legislators.
To some extent, they have already succeeded in influencing EU legislative files and policy initiatives when it comes to EU defence and security strategies.
In 2008, EOS approached the European Commission’s directorate-general for enterprise on setting up an EU industrial security policy. Four years later it became a reality.
It piloted a so-called end-to-end approach to ensure research leads to market development.
The approach is now in the process of being adopted within the commission’s directorate-generals, EOS says.
It also refined the EU's comprehensive approach for maritime surveillance in 2009, initially proposed in 2005, which is now part of the European external border surveillance system, Eurosur.
EOS has had input on the multi-billion euro Internal Security Fund (ISF), currently under discussion among member states, which is designed to help implement EU programmes on internal security and external borders.
They participate in EU-funded research projects on security with the support of departments inside the European Commission.
For instance, they have a leading role in the "Archimedes" project on “innovative security management” and recently began EU co-funded projects on cyber security.
Over the summer, they organised a private meeting with representatives from the commission, parliament, and industry to suss out security opportunities in the EU's Horizon 2020 research programme.
Last year they assembled four European Commissioners at a roundtable to discuss EU border control and security industrial policies.
Monique Pariat, director of the commission’s “Maritime Affairs and Fisheries” directorate-general, chaired an EOS workshop in Gothenburg last May on co-operation between civilian and military entities in maritime surveillance.
Speakers included a French vice-admiral, Ireland’s coast guard director, the acting executive director of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), and EOS vice-chairman, Lars Jernbacker.
Jernbacker is also vice president at Swedish arms maker Saab, where he heads the Business Development Civil Security division.
When asked to elaborate on Pariat’s working relationship with EOS, the commission said merely that it is interested in the views of industry.
In a new initiative, EOS is now pushing the commission to allow private security companies access to maritime surveillance data gathered under the bloc's Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE).
EU and national authorities are responsible for different aspects of surveillance when it comes to border control, safety and security, fisheries control, customs, environment or defence.
Some 80 different security-related national authorities throughout the Union work in the maritime sector. Each gather their own data but do not necessarily share it.
CISE wants to consolidate the collected data into a single platform with restricted access to public authorities.
Meanwhile, EOS sees a new business model emerging from the CISE project.
They want the EU to create a data-exchange system on maritime surveillance and to give private firms access to the information so that they can buy and sell it to generate profits and create jobs.
Nicola Iarossi, an EOS senior programme manager, told EUobserver that they “would like to extend it [the CISE scheme] to a second phase where the information sharing environment will be opened to private operators, including security service organisations and companies.”
EOS documents refer to it as the “Internet of the Sea.”
The commission, for its part, says no decision about management of CISE has been taken yet.
Creating new markets is of high importance because EU industry is facing stiff competition from the Americans and the Chinese.
Globally, the security industry is in full expansion and has grown nearly tenfold in the past decade, from around €10 billion to a market size of €100 billion in 2011.
But the commission predicts the current market share of EU companies in the security sector could drop by one fifth from around 25 percent of the world market in 2010 to 20 percent in 2020, if no action is launched to enhance the competitiveness of EU security firms.
The Brussels’ executive sees the industry as a way of helping to drag the EU out of its economic slump, but it is meeting resistance from member states.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and fishery commissioner Maria Damanaki are currently working on a joint document that spells out the options on how to create security for the global maritime domain.
The foreign minister of Lithuania, Linas Antanas Linkevicius, speaking on behalf of the Lithuanian EU presidency, says the work by Ashton and Damanaki “is well underway."
He recently noted the EU needs to be a reliable security provider and that “continuous efforts need to be invested in building capacity.”
In some cases, such investments are already channeled directly and indirectly to industry via EU agencies or via member states, using the EU Border Fund.
The fund offers, for example, to finance up to 75 percent of the national co-ordination points set up under Eurosur.
The EU maritime agency, EMSA, for its part, told this website it does not procure services from the security and defence industry.
But it does procure some material and services classified as "dual use."
The term refers to companies whose primary business may be defence and security but which also develop tailored services or products for civilian use.
Ingegneria Informatica, an EOS member, has a clientele that ranges from Nato to Coca Cola. The II, which is listed on the Italian stock exchange, signed a €498,780.00 contract with EMSA in 2010.
GMV Aerospace & Defence also signed an EMSA contract, as has MDA Geospatial, which develops imaging solutions for its military, civilian, and commercial client-base.
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