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Parliamentary questions
20 January 2010
E-6084/2009
Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission

The Commission would like to inform the Honourable Member that all published calls for proposals in the field of security research by the Commission must be in an area identified in the annual Work Programme. Such Work Programmes are always to be approved by representatives of the Member States (the Programme Committee). Moreover, annual work programmes have to be strictly within the scope of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) as regards security research, the latter was subject to a co-decision with Council and the Parliament(1).

Furthermore, the Commission wishes to point out that the responsible Directorate-General (DG) for security research is DG ENTR that implements the decisions of FP7 and organises the calls for proposals. Upon receipt of the proposals, the responsible DG organises the evaluation of the project ideas. As a very first step of the evaluation, the Commission invites external experts to comment on all proposals received. Every research project is evaluated by at least three independent experts. In a second step the final decisions are prepared in light of the independent experts' evaluation upon which usually the responsible DG bases its decision. The relevant procedures for the evaluation of proposals by independent experts can be found in the ‘Rules for submission of proposals, and the related evaluation, selection and award procedures’, which are available on the Cordis website(2).

To ensure that the ‘Ethical principles’ as laid out in the FP7 decision are met, the evaluation procedure calls for projects that can be sensitive from an ethical point of view to be submitted to a special ‘ethics panel’. This specialist panel consists of experts on ethical issues coming from several Member States. With the help of such ethical panels it is ensured that the research activities are conducted in conformity with EU and national legislation and regulations(3).

The three projects mentioned by the Honourable Member are based on the 2007 security research work programme, which includes the following topics:

Topic SEC‑2007-1.2-01 Intelligent urban environment observation system:

Technical content/scope: The task is to develop both a fixed and a man portable, integrated, fast, wide area behavioural observation system for individuals, platforms and goods in complex (urban) environments. It should meet surveillance and security tasks including compound security, trafficking of illegal goods, safety monitoring and evacuation on a 24h/7 days basis. This will include the integration of sensor technologies, data fusion and intelligent observation systems to enable stand-off detection and analysis through barriers, of substances and weapons, of carriers and people as well as behaviour analysis to separate potential perpetrators from crowds and neutralise the threat(4).

As to the precise questions, the Commission would like to clarify that the term ‘behaviour’ or ‘abnormal behaviour’ is not defined by the Commission. It is in fact up to the applying consortia to do so when submitting a proposal, where each of the different projects aims at improving the operational efficiency of the law enforcement services, by providing novel technical assistance. In this case:

The SUBITO project focuses on the automated real time detection of abandoned luggage or goods and the fast identification of the individual who left them and their subsequent path.
The ADABTS project is to address the definition of abnormal behaviour, by extracting characterisations in realistic security settings based on expert classifications and the analysis of CCTV (human) operator experience in detecting such abnormal behaviour. Algorithms will then be developed that detect threat behaviours and deviations from normal behaviour.
The INDECT project is to develop a platform for the registration and exchange of operational data, including the recognition of abnormal behaviour or violence, and to develop a prototype of an integrated, network-centric system supporting the operational activities of police officers.

Moreover, the Commission would like to assure the Honourable Member that all three projects have been subject to scrutiny of the ethical committee — and as a result it has been confirmed that research on all three items is in full compliance with legal obligations by the EU and its Member States.

The implementation of technologies being developed into operational systems is however not covered by FP7 projects. According to the normal rules of FP7 all intellectual property rights belong entirely to the members of the consortia conducting the research.

The purpose of these research projects is to promote the availability of novel know-how and technologies to enhance the security of citizens.

The Commission would also like to point to the fact that any decision on the use of research results is a matter for the authorities of the Member States. The Commission expects that the Member States will weigh the advantages and possible disadvantages of using such technologies in a way that takes the ‘presumption of innocence’, the protection of personal data and other fundamental rights fully into account. Furthermore, should Member States intend to use technologies within the scope of Union law, they are bound to respect EU fundamental rights as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as the European Convention on Human Rights. Any Commission legislative proposal that would consider the use or application of security technology would have to be subject to a careful assessment of potential impacts, including those on fundamental rights.

The Commission annually seeks approval of the Parliament and to be ‘discharged’ for the respective budget spent. A mid‑term review is also foreseen for 2010, as part of the normal assessment of the framework programme, the result of which will be transmitted to the Parliament and the Council.

Finally, the Commission would like to point out that upon its initiative all sensitive projects in the field of security research are publicly available to ensure transparency and public debate. Consequently, upon initiative of the Commission, the INDECT project was invited to present its findings and discuss them with invited experts on privacy and data protection at the Security Research Conference at the end of September 2009 in Stockholm. Subject to the decision of the next Commission, this procedure may be repeated for other sensitive projects in 2010 and beyond.

(1)http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2006:412:0001:0041:EN:PDF)
(2)ftp://ftp.cordis.europa.eu/pub/fp7/docs/fp7-evrules_en.pdf
(3)http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7/ethics_en.html
(4)http://cordis/europa.eu/fp7/dc/index.cfm?fuseaction=usersite.Cooperation DetailsCallPage&call_id=34#infopack

Last updated: 26 January 2010Legal notice