Boosting Europe’s security industry

EU flag
EU flag

EU flag

Plans to establish an EU-wide harmonised certification system for airport screening equipment and for alarm systems are amongst a number of proposals outlined in an action plan published by the European Commission today aimed at boosting Europe’s security industry.

The proposals are intended to establish a better functioning internal market for security technologies and empower the industry – one of the sectors with the greatest potential for growth and employment in the EU – to stay in Europe and continue producing high quality security products.

The Commission proposals include:

– harmonising standards and certification procedures for security technologies;

– better exploitation of cooperation between (civil) security and defence research;

– novel funding schemes such as pre-commercial procurement to test and validate results stemming from EU security research projects;

– introducing checks on the societal impact of new security technologies at the research stage.

European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for enterprise and entrepreneurship, said: “The current fragmented market weakens the competitiveness of Europe’s security industry. This lack of an “EU brand” is especially critical as the future key markets for security technologies will not be in Europe but in emerging countries. Today we have agreed a blueprint for the creation of a true internal market for security technologies. This is essential to strengthen the position of our security industry, so that it can contribute to growth and jobs.”

European companies are still among the world leaders in the majority of the security sector’s market segments, but recent market forecasts indicate the market shares of European companies in the global market are bound to decrease over the next few years.  Industry forecasts and independent studies predict the current market share of EU companies could drop by one fifth – from around 25 per cent of the world market in 2010, to 20 per cent in 2020 – if no action is launched to enhance competitiveness of the EU security industry.

Favourable internal market conditions are therefore essential to keep and expand the industry’s technological advantage, as well as strengthening the industry’s position in emerging international markets. Also, a special emphasis should be given to support SMEs in their efforts to access international markets in third countries.

More specifically:

The priority will be to overcome fragmentation of the EU security market, by harmonising standards and certification procedures for security technologies. European standardisation organisations will be asked to establish concrete and detailed standardisation roadmaps on the next generation of technologies. To achieve mutual recognition of certification systems, the Commission plans to issue two legislative proposals: to establish an EU-wide harmonised certification system for airport screening (detection) equipment and an EU-wide harmonised certification system for alarm systems.

Emphasis should be given to a better exploitation of synergies between (civil) security and defence research. The Commission intends to issue, in cooperation with the European Defence Agency, standardisation mandates for ‘hybrid standards’ to the European standardisation organisations.

To reduce the gap between research and market, especially in European and international procurement, the Commission will use novel funding schemes foreseen in Horizon 2020 such as Pre-commercial Procurement, to test and validate results stemming from EU security research projects. This approach should unite industry, public authorities and end users from the beginning of research projects. Border security and aviation security are the most promising areas.

The Commission will encourage member states to launch similar initiatives at national level, in compliance with relevant EU public procurement law.

The Commission will introduce checks on the societal impact of new security technologies at the research stage. In addition, the Commission will issue a mandate to European standardisation organisations to develop a standard for the integration of privacy issues, from design to production process phases.

A major study will analyse the legal and economic implications of third party liability limitation.

A dedicated expert group set up by the Commission will meet at least once a year to monitor the implementation of proposed policy measures and bring together all relevant actors in the field of security.


Over the last ten years the global security market has grown nearly tenfold from some €10 billion to a market size of some €100 billion in 2011, with an annual turnover of around €30 billion in the EU. However, as recent market evolutions indicate, the global market shares of European companies could drop significantly over the next years if no action is taken to enhance their competitiveness.

In the US, thanks to the benefits of a harmonised legal framework and a robust internal market, security companies remain the market leaders and technological front runners. In contrast, the EU’s internal market is highly fragmented, divided along national or even regional boundaries.

The EU security market has an estimated market value of between €26 billion and €36.5 billion with around 180,000 employees. It can broadly be divided into the following sectors: aviation security, maritime security, border security, critical infrastructure protection, counter-terror intelligence (including cyber security and communication), physical security protection; crisis management and protective clothing.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.