The civil, defence, and space sectors have the potential for synergies and cross-fertilisation between themselves and other civil sectors. They face many challenges and constraints, including the need for European standards and certification. The European Union has published the Communication “Action Plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries” in February 2021, which defines policy actions under three main objectives:
- enhancing complementarity between EU programmes and instruments (Synergies);
- promoting the results of defence and space research and development (R&D) for civilian innovations (Spin-offs);
- facilitating the use of civil industry research and innovation in defence projects (Spin-ins).
All three objectives aim at enhancing European economic growth, further developing the Single Market, and improving security for European citizens. The Action Plan presents 11 actions that will promote synergies at EU level. These include:
The capability-driven approach (Action 1)
One way to address these challenges is to promote the capability-driven approach (CDA) that is based on two steps: first, users define what capability they need and, second, they express their intention to procure products that, once developed, will offer the desired capability.
This approach has proven useful in the space and defence sectors, and the European Commission will strengthen the identification of needs and solutions in the field of internal security by fostering capability-driven approaches across security sectors, building on best practices from the defence and space sectors.
For security standardisation, this means adoption of new thinking when developing standards for the civilian sector, as the standards might not address products but rather the newly defined capabilities.
Critical technologies and technology roadmaps (Action 4)
To achieve technological sovereignty and maintain competitiveness of the European industry, the EU will support the development of critical technologies that are strategically important for Europe and make a decisive contribution to key capabilities provided by the European defence, space, and related civil industries.
The Action Plan lists several technologies that are critical for the European industry. Further, the Commission will develop technology roadmaps to boost innovation on these domains and to stimulate cross-border cooperation.
Efficient Europe-wide development of critical technologies may need new technical and quality standards to guide the development efforts. An interesting challenge would be to develop standards that help find a balance between the required capabilities and the critical technologies.
Standardisation (Action 6)
Common standards applied across several sectors can contribute to cost savings, production and cost management, but also improve operational effectiveness and enhance interoperability, especially in a multinational environment.
Future standards should be better linked with public security-related procurement programmes to boost innovation and synergies. The Commission plans to identify existing standards and best practices and develop new ones that can be used across civil, defence and space industries. These standards will be promoted in EU programmes and instruments. As examples, the Commission presents two cases:
- the planned work under rescEU, which may improve cross-border collaboration towards unified Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) standards at user (civil protection agencies) and industrial levels;
- the planned initiative under the Digital Europe Programme on a European Security Data Space, which will contribute to the setting of quality standards at EU level.
This action can lead to harmonising standards, commonly agreed testing protocols, best practices, and EU codes of conduct to reduce costs, increasing interoperability, improving the potential for synergies and enhancing comprehensibility. Before the end of 2022, the Commission will present a plan to promote the use of existing hybrid civil/defence standards and the development of new ones. This will be done in close cooperation with standardisation bodies and other key stakeholders.
We are looking with interest and high expectations to the implementation of these actions. The STRATEGY project is ready and keen to be a part of these actions wherever possible and feasible.