26 Feb 2010

The EU and the European Security Industry: Questioning the ‘Public-Private Dialogue’

Didier Bigo / Julien Jeandesboz

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In September 2007, the European Commission published a Communication on “Public-Private Dialogue in Security Research and Innovation”, purportedly to specify the guidelines, objectives and modalities for the relations between public and private actors in EU-funded security research schemes. The authors of this paper, however, charge that the tabling of this Communication was misleading in light of the fact that relations between the European institutions, particularly the European Commission, and major companies in the field of defence and security, have intensified significantly since the early 2000s. They have found that major defence and security companies have played a key role in the definition of the orientation and priorities of the EU’s research and development policy for security-related technical systems – and also turn out to be the major beneficiaries of this policy. Against the background of this observation, they then explore a series of questions concerning the ‘dialogue’ advocated by the European Commission. Firstly, between whom is this dialogue supposed to take place? Previous and current EU security research schemes have notoriously left little room for participants other than major industrial groups, on the one hand, and national and European security agencies and services, on the other. Secondly, what should be the purpose of such a dialogue?

Didier Bigo is President of the Centre d’Etudes sur les Conflits and Professor at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. Julien Jeandesboz is associate researcher at the Centre d’Etudes sur les Conflits and Ph.D. candidate at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris.