The European Commission, as well as Member State authorities, has identified as one of the more important areas of interest according to the European Security Strategy, to enhance the protection of Non-Regulated Borders, where the deployment of surveillance mechanisms supported by technical equipment and specialized operators has had an enormous impact on the security levels achieved during the last years. While the EU Member States are responsible for the control of its borders, EU develops common policies to sustain Member States in this continuous effort.
In its conclusions of 23-24th of June 2011 the European Council stated that the "the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) will be further developed as a matter of priority in order to become operational by 2013 and allow Member States' authorities carrying out border surveillance activities to share operational information and improve cooperation".
As stated in the Commission Work Programme (CWP) for 2011 "the aim of EUROSUR is to reinforce the control of the Schengen external border, especially the southern maritime and eastern land borders. EUROSUR will establish a mechanism for Member States' authorities carrying out border surveillance activities (border guards, coast guards, police, customs, and navies) to share operational information and to cooperate with each other and with the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) in order to reduce the loss of lives at sea and the number of irregular immigrants entering the EU undetected, and to increase internal security by preventing cross-border crime such as terrorism, trafficking in human beings, smuggling of weapons and drugs, etc."
Since 2008, the EU Member States, the EU border agency Frontex and the European Commission have been closely cooperating in order to define and develop the technical and operational framework of EUROSUR. The supranational components of EUROSUR are being tested and gradually established on a pilot basis since 2011, using funding provided under the Frontex budget. In parallel, Member States are using since 2008 the External Borders Fund to set up the national components of EUROSUR, such as the national coordination centres and national border surveillance systems. This approach shortens considerably the time needed for establishing EUROSUR and also allows to test and adapt the different components of EUROSUR before making it operational in 2013.
The works carried out for the development, testing and gradual establishment of EUROSUR are based on a roadmap presented in a Commission Communication in 2008. This roadmap has been endorsed by the Justice and Home Affairs Council in its conclusions of June 2008 and February 2010 and by the Stockholm Programme and the Action Plan implementing the Stockholm Programme. On 12.12.2011 the Commission presented a proposal foar a regulation establishing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) (COM(2011) 873 final).
It is considered within this roadmap that the different technical components of EUROSUR need to be tested and validated among Member States (and Frontex) before making them operational. For example, the EUROSUR network is currently being tested on a pilot basis between Frontex and selected Member States.
However, no off-the-shelf solutions exist for some other envisaged capabilities, such as the detection and tracking of small boats. Therefore the 7th EU Framework Programme for research and development (FP7) is being used since 2008 to improve the performance and test the combination of surveillance tools in close cooperation with the private sector. Further Projects have been launched in 2010-2011 respectively and others are under preparation totest and validate selected components of EUROSUR, such as the common application of surveillance tools (e.g. satellite imagery, ship reporting systems) at EU level.
Taking into consideration this background, the Topic "SEC-2012.3.1-2 Pre-Operational Validation (POV) at EU level of common application of surveillance tools" will contribute to enhance the development of the European Security Strategy and it will represent a clear opportunity for the European Union to give another step towards the evolution of current systems and the development of new surveillance capabilities required for upgrading current performance levels in border surveillance.
In this regard, initiatives like EUROSUR will be able to benefit from the achievements of the POV Project and incorporate the outcomes of the Project to its own development.
But the validation of innovative solutions in an operational scenario requires a considerable effort at all levels, including technical, organizational, operational and budgetary. The process for the implementation of additional capabilities or for the upgrading of the existing ones entails a series of steps including, among others, the following:
- Identification of the capabilities that can be upgraded and definition of possible solutions.
- Identification of new capabilities that can be provided by innovative systems.
- Integration of the new capabilities in the existing systems without impacting current performance levels.
- Training of users for the maximization of the overall system performance.
- Demonstration of the new performance levels both in synthetic and real scenarios, providing a view of the different alternatives proposed.
- Bench-marking the different competitive solutions in terms of performances and costs to highlight the best one.
- Issuing the user needs specification for the market to incorporate them as a reference for the development of valid solutions.
These steps cannot be exercised and financed by a single agent, and therefore a cooperative approach should be implemented, where suppliers and fist-buyers interact in order to find the best possible solutions. In this sense, the leading role of the users is a key for the proper definition of the scope of the validation process.
As per all the above, the main objectives for this Project, can therefore be summarized as follows:
- To provide the EU with an operational and technical framework that would increase situational awareness and improve the reaction capability of authorities surveying the external borders of the EU by following a decentralized approach;
- To validate new security solutions taking into account any aspect of border security that could threaten human rights or break international law;
- To enable public authorities in charge of border surveillance to innovate faster in the provision of their institutional services, making them more efficient and effective;
- To increase the research capacity and innovation performance of European companies and research institutions, creating new opportunities to take international leadership in new markets;
- To conduct pre-operational validation of common application of surveillance tools at EU level via the competitive testing and assessment of several potential solutions;
- To achieve a competitive testing framework by:
- the identification of the different technological alternatives for the achievement of a set of user-defined operational objectives;
- the technical feasibility of alternative options for the Common Applications of different types of surveillance tools;
- the feasibility of the integration of these technologies taking into consideration the limitations imposed by the existing surveillance deployments and the current use of regulated resources (e.g. airspace);
- the comparative performance of proposed options, while deployed in daily operations in real scenarios;
- the identification and documentation, as appropriate, of the infrastructure, capabilities and skills required for the acquisition and operation of these systems under user-defined safety and security conditions;
- the cost-benefit ratio of each of the options tested within each of the two types of tools;
the identification of the maturity level showed by both solutions in order to promote short/mid-term use;
- the definition of innovative applications, business models and procurement schemes that can facilitate the migration to these new solutions from the existing traditional tools.
EUROSUR Will be operational on the second half of 2013 and CLOSEYE is expected to be a key contribution for its further development, as contemplated in the EUROSUR regulation proposal, and in particular to the evolution of the concept for the Common Application of Surveillance tools, defined in Article 12 of such proposal.