The European Commission has issued a “Call for Evidence” to inform the public and stakeholders and provide an opportunity to submit feedback on countering the threat of drones in the European Union (EU). The Commission is requesting these groups to share their perspectives on the Commission’s comprehension of the issue, potential solutions, and any pertinent information they can provide.

The Commission is seeking feedback on the security challenge due to the rapid growth of the drone industry, including the development of counter-drone technologies. These quickly evolving technologies are significantly impacting society as a whole. The consultation process will allow stakeholders to provide valuable input on this matter.

Target audience for feedback includes government and industry

The primary target audience for this initiative includes government organizations, agencies, and institutions in the Member States responsible for enforcing drone flight regulations. Additionally, ministries, EU and national agencies, and industry (both civilian and defense) involved in developing counter-drone programs and activities are also important target audiences.

Moreover, there are several stakeholders who may be impacted by or involved in counter-drone measures, including local authorities, civil aviation agencies, frequency regulators, transport officials, industry stakeholders, commercial and other drone users, model-plane hobbyists, and the general public.

Counter-drone policy to supplement Drone Strategy 2.0

The EU has an established policy framework for the proper use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones. However, no unified policy is in place to address UAS threats. The proposed Communication serves as a supplement to the recently introduced Drone Strategy 2.0, which aims to create a smart and sustainable unmanned aircraft ecosystem in Europe. In order to foster an innovative and competitive drone industry in the EU, this initiative outlines strategies for managing drones that operate outside of established regulations, referred to as “non-cooperative drones.”

To fully realize the potential of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for legitimate purposes, it is essential to prevent their unauthorized use. Although UAS can be innovative tools for numerous legitimate applications, uncontrolled access to them can lead to malicious use. UAS-related incidents have been increasing inside and outside the EU, including organized criminal activities, attacks on public spaces, individuals, critical infrastructure, and unauthorized entry of UAS from non-EU countries into Member States’ airspace.

While the EU has established regulations for the authorized use of drones, there are no specific guidelines or rules for countering their unauthorized or criminal usage. To better respond to threats posed by UAS in the EU, EU security authorities should be able to adopt counter-UAS solutions.

In order to safeguard society against the risks posed by non-cooperative and malicious drones, law enforcement and public and private operators must have legal access to cost-effective and dependable counter-measure technologies that can provide adaptable solutions suited to the threat level and operational circumstances.

Significant benefits to a unified strategy

The potential benefits of civil-defense collaboration are significant. The EU’s drone strategy 2.0 acknowledges the value of “leveraging synergies between civil and military applications of drones and drone-related technologies, including counter-drone solutions for detecting and addressing drone-related threats.” This initiative seeks to identify methods for capitalizing on the potential synergies arising from the utilization of both civil and military drone technologies.

While Member States are primarily responsible for addressing UAS threats, they could benefit from a strategic framework at the EU level. A coordinated approach would be more effective than individual Member States acting alone and could lead to closer collaboration and coordination among Member States regarding the different and often limited counter-drone resources available. An EU-level strategy would also promote cooperation in cross-border counter-drone cases and facilitate sharing of information on existing threats and incidents.

Feedback will result in Member States guidance

The feedback and future framework results are expected to be in the form of a Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. In addition to the Communication, a comprehensive counter-drone package will be established by publishing two new handbooks on “Protection against unmanned aircraft systems.”

For more information, please visit Call for Evidence and  Protection from Counter-Terrorism and Radicalisation.

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