Implementation of EU Drone Strategy 2.0: CoESS welcomes EU C-UAS Package

At a dedicated meeting with the European Commission and law enforcement representatives of the EU Member States, CoESS welcomed this week the recently published EU C-UAS Package. During the meeting, Alexander Frank (Head of EU Affairs) underlined particularly the importance of the announced legal mapping exercise and the added value of two C-UAS handbooks published by the EU Joint Research Centre.

The productive use of drones can be of high added value when integrated in security services solutions. They can enhance the effectiveness of security measures for instance in monitoring and surveillance, inspection, search and rescue – both at the benefit of security workers and clients. Typical environments for their deployment include Critical Entities and related infrastructure (nuclear power plants, ports, train networks, energy infrastructure and pipelines, etc.) as well as public spaces (e.g. in event security). When used in a “productive” way, they are deployed based on the EU Drone Regulation (see CoESS proposal on how to promote the productive use of drones in security services through new EU Standard Scenarios here).

Criminal actors can however also misuse drones. Unknown drones can potentially carry a hazardous payload, including CBRNe. They can serve as means of cyberattacks, block the functioning of infrastructures (e.g. due to the closing of airspace), and be used for purposes of espionage (e.g. of sites such as military facilities, as seen in Germany, and Critical Infrastructure, as seen in Sweden). When detecting an unknown drone, there exists only a very short timeframe to respond to this potential threat through verification, intervention and mitigation measures.

In most EU Member States, this situation is neither reflected in national legislation nor debated with the law enforcement and security community. For example, security companies in Europe can only detect a drone at the moment, but afterwards rarely do anything about it due to a lack of legal certainty. As this is also closely related to existing harmonised legislation on data protection and drone operations at EU-level, CoESS believes that EU action in this field would be highly valuable while respecting Member State competencies in national security matters.

CoESS therefore highly welcomed this week respective action announced in the recently published EU C-UAS Package at a meeting with the European Commission and national law enforcement and Home Affairs representatives. Particularly the legal mapping exercise announced by the Commission could shed valuable light on where adjustments to legal frameworks at EU- and national level can be made, also to provide legal certainty to private security companies that face increasing market demand for C-UAS services. Also two handbooks published by the EU Joint Research Centre on UAS protection of critical infrastructure and public spaces and UAS risk assessment and principles for physical hardening of buildings and sites provide highly valuable guidance for stakeholders in the security chain, including on important standard operating procedures of different involved actors such as private security.

The actions well reflect the position paper published by CoESS in May 2023 and CoESS will continue liaising with the European Commission on the implementation of the Package, including the announced extension of C-UAS training to private security services.