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Monthly Free Article

Monthly Free Article

Pandemics: what the public demands to raise trust in authority

By MATTHEW SCHILKA, with BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – When the H1N1 pandemic, or “Swine Flu”, made headlines in 2009 it generated a wave of fear throughout Western countries. Although the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control estimates that more than 2300 people died from the flu in the EU alone, its consequences were less serious than some experts predicted. One of the consequences of H1N1 saw the public’s confidence in health authorities plummet, social media participants calling into question official statements on the pandemic’s potential impact. One of the key remedies, argues an EU-funded initiative, is for...

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Latest gathering of “community of users” brainstorms to improve European security and disaster resilience techniques

By PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – On 12 September, members of the “Community of Users on Secure, Safe and Resilient Societies”, or CoU, gathered at their eighth meeting in Brussels to discuss the results of a half-dozen security-related research projects. (See related “EPISECC” story in this issue.) Olivier Onidi, second in charge for security policy at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME), led off the three-day conference by addressing its “user” participants, or practitioners who deal with European security and emergency response every day. “Your work is critical in guiding us, and to help us accelerate the market uptake of different research tools and results,” declared Onidi, who noted that every EU member state wants to conduct more research on...

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When the other drone drops: big companies waiting for EU drone regulations to crystallise before swooping into the market

By PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – The EU’s Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR) released on 16 June its “vision paper” for drone use in the operational area known as the “U-Space” – that is, up to 150 meters in altitude. This “unmanned” space is becoming economically precious territory for drone operators and services such as infrastructure inspection and product delivery come online. But what does the U-Space plan actually mean? While not legally binding, it...

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First EU-NATO assessment reports progress on all fronts across their cooperation areas, but behind the rhetoric lies another story

By BROOKS TIGNER , BRUSSELS – EU and NATO completed their first joint report on 14 June (which EU foreign ministers reviewed on 19 June) regarding the two sides’ progress on implementing the 42 proposals they endorsed in Warsaw a year ago. These range from cyber-defence cooperation and counter-hybrid warfare to joint exercises, coordination of defence capability development goals, cross-operational support and other measures to boost Europe’s overall security. Their publicly released report is short – only four pages – and contains no details about progress on the individual proposals. Instead it proffers glowing statements about their accomplishments so far. "We are convinced that in the space of a few months we have achieved tangible results in the implementation of all proposals,” it states. That might apply to certain areas such as joint tabletop exercises or operational cooperation in the Mediterranean. But in other crucial ones, progress is snaking along at best and – as sources from both sides have told SECURITY EUROPE – will probably take years to effect real change, particularly for any...

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Ukraine clears EU visa hurdle, but tougher tests still to come

By PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – What are the prospects for developing relations between the war-torn state of Ukraine and the European Union? A mixed bag, to hear experts describe it. While most acknowledge that the country has adopted an impressive range of reforms, dark clouds remain on the horizon, with one EU politician arguing that the most difficult institutional changes in Ukraine have only just begun.Experts and policymakers gathered on 27 April under the auspices of...

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Hope for internet-of-things’ glorious future grapples with security

By PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – By 2020 more than 200 billion devices will be connected to cyberspace, forming the internet-of-things (IoT), according to industry estimates. Many of those will connect to their users through sensors monitoring everything from location and air quality to heart rate. On 19 and 20 April, Internet policymakers and experts gathered at the Eighth Annual Internet of Things Conference here to discuss how the proliferation of connected sensor devices is changing Europe.As one European Commission official put it: “In a few years, the data that your car transmits could be more valuable than the car itself.”In response, the Commission has begun to implement a regulatory framework intended to spur innovation. This includes...

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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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‘Culture of risk’ proponents seek to improve societal resilience

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – In the broadest sense, ‘culture’ refers to how different people use different means to achieve the same goals. For example, some will grow rice to eat, and others will grow wheat. And in a crisis, different groups of people tend to respond differently. Some people will call a national telephone hotline. Others will walk to the local pub, to see what their neighbours are saying or doing. As floodwaters rise, some will wait for government action. Others will grab a shovel and a sandbag. Exploring how individuals and communities respond to crises, and how such different cultural responses can help societies remain resilient, was the focus of...

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Commission’s latest report on migrant flows is very mixed picture

By PATRICK STEPHENSON,BRUSSELS – The European Commission released its 9th progress report on relocation and resettlement on 8 February. The periodic report tracks the EU’s progress in transferring migrants and refugees from overcrowded processing centres and ‘hotspots’ in Greece and Italy to other member states. The verdict? Despite the EU press service’s headline about ‘encouraging results,’ the numbers buried in the report suggest deep and ongoing...

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While Commission drone regulations slowly get off the ground, untrained drone operators in Europe fly far, fast and frequently

By PATRICK STEPHENSONBRUSSELS – Once the preserve of aviation hobbyists, drones now hold big promise for many key industries. Better and smaller cameras and electronics, internet and satellite communication, and lighter and cheaper materials have all made drones suitable for tasks as varied as monitoring agricultural yields, inspecting off-shore oil platforms in the high north, or helping police secure porous land and maritime borders. By 2035, the total industry – including leisure and toy drones, commercial or government drones, and military drones – will generate more that EUR 10 billion a year, creating over 100,000 jobs. Most of that growth will come in the commercial and government sector, as analysts see the leisure and toy sector approaching maturity. According to manufacturers, trainers, and operators, however, the Commission must...

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