Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The commission is on the case

I don't suppose that anyone who has thought about the London bombings will disagree with the view that one of the main ways of preventing further outrages is to deport the poisonous imams who have been spreading their destructive creed in their mosques up and down England.

As a passing thought, it might have helped if our immigration services were cute enough to weed out fraudulent asylum seekers instead of welcoming them aboard and giving them British citizenship and a hunk of welfare money.

But such simplicity eludes the EU Commission. Ever alert for the opportunity to waste our money, it has solemnly announced today that it is planning to spend €15 million for new security research on the "fight against terrorism".

Terrorist attacks using explosives or chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear substances on mainline or metropolitan railway systems, it says, pose a clear and present danger to EU citizens.

This is why the beneficent EU commission has decided to fund a research project to design and demonstrate "an anti-terrorist security system architecture to better detect these terrorist threats and hence better protect railway passengers."

If you say it quickly, it almost sounds convincing – after all, anyone who can rattle off "anti-terrorist security system architecture" with a straight face must be pretty cool. But what does it all mean?

Well, in the lucid and dynamic words of the beloved Commission, this is the cue for "Preparatory Action for Security Research", which is going to "improve the security of EU citizens and strengthen the European industrial base." Aaah... "strengthen the European industrial base". Isn't that another way of saying "subsidy"?

Anyway, with the help of a dollop of our money, the EU is going to par for a project which will combine information from combine information from sensors, remote control or autonomous cameras, ground penetrating radars and line scanners.

Other selected projects will look at improving surveillance of European harbours and coastlines and at integrated protection systems of the complete air transportation system, including aircraft, ground infrastructure and information networks against terrorist attacks, as well as attacks by Man Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS).

These are just a few of the 13 projects selected, out of an overall budget that the Commission plans to increase from €15 million to roughly €250 million a year from 2007. Clearly, there’s money in them there bombs.

Never mind, the wise and all-knowing commission vice-president G√ľnter Verheugen has told us that: "The recent events in London show how vulnerable public transport systems are to terrorist attacks. The Commission is determined to do its part to better protect our citizens and fund EU wide targeted research efforts."

And the equally sage vice-president Franco Frattinia adds: "The findings of the research projects will constitute yet another small but important step in strengthening the EU’s capacity to prevent and counter terrorism."

And just to make sure the whole thing goes humming along, the commission has been far-sighted enough to create a "European Security Research Advisory Board" (ESRAB). This, we are all delighted to hear, is composed of "private and public security stakeholders", and is already in the process of advising the commission on how to spend some more of our money.

I am sure travellers on the London Underground will be mightily reassured, now that the commission is on the case.

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