Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy
Ms. Michèle Alliot-Marie
Mr. Hervé Morin
Security & Defence Days is a high level conference organised each year in Brussels by CEIS & SDA, which gathers key actors from both civilian and military backgrounds to exchange ideas and discuss the future of the European Security and Defence Policy.
Conference says – anticipate, collaborate, implement!
Speaking at the “Security & Defence Days 08” (SecDef'08), senior figures reinforced the same message: in the face of a raft of security threats, global collaboration and cooperation were the only ways forward. First up was France’s Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie who emphasised the need to anticipate the likely threats of the next 20 years so an holistic approach could be agreed and developed; one that made citizens feel secure whilst retaining essential liberties. Alliot-Marie also saw a future where, depending on the type of conflict, the EU and NATO shared competencies; that led the Alliance’s Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry to say that the door (for US-Europe cooperation) had never been so wide open.
As much of the critical infrastructure in Europe was in private hands, Alliot-Marie also stressed the essential role of business, as it was much more than a supplier. Looking across the Atlantic, Dassault Aviation’s Vice President Eric Trappier argued that while the US had shown the way in “mastering defence technology”, he wanted many more EU countries to make an additional financial effort – especially in R&D, while Bruno Masnou, Key Account Leader France of EADS' Defence & Security Division regretted that the greater emphasis on Research & Technology was often done in a vacuum, and called for a link between research and actual usage on the ground. Towards the end of the conference, the same call for partnership was taken up by European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security Jacques Barrot. Placing his priorities on border control, maritime security and the fight against cyber crime (including cyber attacks), the Commissioner called for greater collaboration between industry and the authorities. New solutions were needed, based on advanced technologies that were compatible with existing laws and values.
Closing the conference, Robert Schuman Foundation President Jean-Dominique Giuliani said that the way forward had to be European in nature. Security threats had to be faced but there would be “no Patriot Act in Europe”. All stakeholders had to show there was a European way – they had to go “further and faster”.