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Nannette Cazaubon

CONFERENCE REPORT

Convincing Security Research results FP7: CATO Project Public Conference, Bonn 2013 by Nannette Cazaubon, Journalist, Paris

The first public CATO Conference – on “Leading edge research and innovation in CBRN Preparedness & Response” – was held from 9 to 10 October 2014 in Bonn, in the historic neo-Gothic Collegium Albertinum, a former seminary. Some 120 participants – politicians, members of the administration, academics and industrialists – gathered for two days of discussions of the results presented by the CATO consortium to the plenary. With CATO entering its last year, the consortium’s findings thus far were demonstrated in eight interactive workshops, giving participants a foretaste of the final results that can be expected at the end of 2014.

What is CATO? CATO, standing for CBRN crisis management, Architecture, Technologies and Operational procedures, is a Research and Technology (R&D) project funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme (FP 7). Supported by ARTTIC, Paris, which plays a coordinating role, the CATO consortium comprises 25 companies, universities, research centres, police and other bodies from the European Union and Israel, which interact continuously with external advisers, collecting their feedback on project results.

Conference Reports

The historical venue of the CATO Conference in Bonn Photo: Rob Munro

The project aims to develop a holistic open toolbox for dealing with CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) crises arising as a result of terrorist use of CBRN materials or non-conventional weapons, or on sites where there are CBRN materials. It addresses the issue of how to overcome the fragmentation of CBRN protection in terms of preparedness and response, a key objective of the European Commission and European Parliament.

The Conference highlights - The Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), Ion Mircea Pas¸cu, MEP, highlighted the EP’s interest in CBRN preparedness and response, stressing that the CBRN threat and risk were very real. The EU Commission and the European Parliament wished to overcome the fragmentation of CBRN protection in the European Union, he said. “A new form of deterrence based primarily on the effectiveness of the response, should be given pre-eminence, thus offering also the indispensable guarantee of defence” (see page 54).

-The EU CBRN Action Plan was the central discussion theme of a high-level panel moderated by the editor-in-chief of this magazine, Hartmut Bühl, and bringing together members of the three European Commission departments concerned with CBRN issues as well as a representative of the European Defence Agency (EDA). It was commonly agreed that a revision of the EU’s 2009 CBRN Action Plan, as proposed by the European Parliament on the basis of the report submitted by Ana Gomez report in 2010, was the right approach, and that national hesitations on proposed measures in the EU Council