The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology


Merging of Security and Defence in the EU

The overarching aim of this project is to provide a detailed evidence base for the Flemish Peace Institute in order to make policy recommendations on the future of strategic export controls to the decision makers and practitioners, who will shape the future direction of strategic export controls in the European Union.

Following the democratic uprisings in the Arab world, several European companies have found themselves under criticism from NGOs and the media for being careless about where their online surveillance technologies end up. 

This has led to controversies about the export of strategic ‘security’ goods by EU firms to states which then used them to repress protests during the Arab Spring. 


he research will involve dialogue with policy makers, industry representatives and critical voices from the NGO community as well as existing literature and data.  It will investigate the policy implications for strategic export control and the blurring of the boundaries between security and defence in current EU policies.

The research programme launched in September and will take 12 months to complete. Stage one is well underway and takes the form of a literature review of key recent academic narratives on the concepts of defence and security. The review studies the changing understandings of security in international relations literature since the end of the Cold War. It also looks at the emergence of new security concerns and the perception of security from the state to the individual through the human security agenda.

The remaining key aspects of the research will focus on the characteristics of the security and defence market in the EU including the supply side, users and technologies, which will be based on existing literature and interviews.

EU policies to strengthen the competitiveness of the security and defence industry in Europe, such as research funding, sectoral competitiveness actions and European Defence Agency work will be assessed. 

Finally, an analysis will be made of the consequences for export controls on strategic goods and whether the existing legal frameworks adequately cover the emerging defence and security market.