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Call: Fight against firearms trafficking

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Programme
Acronym HE-CL3-FCT
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Horizon Europe - Cluster 3 - Destination 1: Better protect the EU and its citizens against Crime and Terrorism"

One of the main purposes of this Destination is to contribute significantly to the implementation of the Security Union Strategy [[COM(2020) 605 final.]], i.e. to include Research and Innovation as one of the key building blocks enabling the achievement of the overall policy objectives. As such, the topics in this Destination aim at fully addressing all the key issues underlined in the Strategy. In addition, this Destination touches upon the Counter-Terrorism Agenda [[COM(2020) 795 final.]] as well as the security dimension of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum [[COM(2020) 609 final.]], notably the issues related to criminal networks. More specifically, this Destination includes research topics aiming at fighting crime and terrorism more effectively, particularly through better prevention of crime and enhanced investigation capabilities concerning both traditional crime and cybercrime, as well as at better protection of citizens from violent attacks in public spaces, through more effective prevention, preparedness and response while preserving the open nature of such spaces. This Destination will develop the knowledge and technologies to be taken up by the Internal Security Fund, as a complementary instrument that will enable exploitation of research results and final delivery of the required tools to security practitioners.

The goal of this Destination is to bring improved prevention, investigation and mitigation of impacts of crime, including of new/emerging criminal modi operandi (such as those exploiting digitisation and other technologies). Such an approach needs to be based on a deeper knowledge of human and social aspects of relevant societal challenges, such as child sexual exploitation, violent radicalisation, trafficking of human beings, disinformation and fake news, corruption and cyber criminality, including support to victims. Research can further help to transpose such knowledge into the operational activities of Police Authorities [[In the context of this Destination, ‘Police Authorities’ means public authorities explicitly designated by national law, or other entities legally mandated by the competent national authority, for the prevention, detection and/or investigation of terrorist offences or other criminal offences, specifically excluding police academies, forensic institutes, training facilities as well as border and customs authorities.]], as well as civil society organisations.

Research and innovation will support Police Authorities and, when applicable, other relevant end-users in better tackling crime, including cybercrime, and terrorism as well as different forms of serious and organised crime (such as smuggling, money laundering, identity theft, counterfeiting of products, trafficking of illicit drugs and of falsified/substandard medicines, environmental crime or illicit trafficking of cultural goods) by developing new technologies, tools and systems (including digital tools, e.g. artificial intelligence, interoperability solutions, etc.). This support refers especially to capabilities to analyse in near-real-time large volumes of data to forestall criminal activities, or to combat disinformation and fake news with implications for security.

In addition to improved knowledge, preparedness, prevention and response, projects within this Destination will deliver operational tools for enhanced criminal investigation capabilities for Police Authorities and, when applicable, other relevant end-users. Thus, this Destination covers a broad range of activities from forensics, big data management to the investigation of cybercriminal activities, improved cross-border cooperation and exchange of evidence.

With regards to CBRN-E (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives) threats, research and innovation within this Destination allows, among others, to generate knowledge for counter-terrorism on the continuously evolving methods related to dangerous chemicals, contaminants and unknown substances, and the development of technologies to counter and respond to related incidents.

Furthermore, this Destination aims at improved security of public spaces and public safety, while at the same time preserving the open nature of urban public spaces. All measures to be explored by research and innovation in this area should ensure that citizens can continue their daily lives without major intrusions. To achieve higher security for public space, research in this Destination will identify concepts for prevention, preparedness and response of urban actors (city authorities, Police Authorities, public/private service providers, first responders and citizens) in response to threats of terrorist attacks in public spaces. Innovations can be used to design/improve public spaces to be more secure, also with the help of advanced vulnerability assessments. They can increase the capacity to protect spaces against attacks with manned or unmanned vehicles and can help to detect firearms and other weapons, as well as CBRN-E materials being brought into public spaces. In case attacks cannot be prevented, enhanced effectiveness of mitigation measures including through strategies to reduce vulnerability and strengthening the resilience of possible targets have the potential to reduce the potential impacts of such attacks. Advanced data analysis in real time can critically reduce the time-to-react for first responders.

This Destination will also promote, whenever appropriate and applicable, the proposals with:

  • the involvement of the Police Authorities in their core,
  • a clear strategy on how they will adapt to the fast-evolving environment in the area of fight against crime and terrorism (evolution of related technologies, evolution of criminal modi operandi and business models related to these technologies, etc.),
  • a minimum-needed platform, i.e. tools that are modular and can be easily plugged into another platform (in order to avoid platform multiplication),
  • tools that are developed and validated against practitioners’ needs and requirements,
  • a robust plan on how they will build on the relevant predecessor projects,
  • the (active) involvement of citizens, voluntary organisations and communities,
  • education and training aspects, especially for Police Authorities and other relevant practitioners, as well as information sharing and awareness raising of the citizens,
  • a clear strategy on the uptake of the outcomes, defined in consultation with the involved stakeholders,
  • a well-developed plan both on how research data for training and testing will be obtained, in order to reach the requested Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), and on how the specific TRL will be measured.

The Destination will also create opportunities for collaboration on research and innovation among different communities of practitioners operating in the area of fighting crime and terrorism, such as Police Authorities, border and coast guard authorities, and customs authorities. International cooperation is also encouraged where appropriate and relevant.

Expected impacts:

Proposals for topics under this Destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to the following expected impact of the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan 2021-2024: “Crime and terrorism are more effectively tackled, while respecting fundamental rights, […] thanks to more powerful prevention, preparedness and response, a better understanding of related human, societal and technological aspects, and the development of cutting-edge capabilities for police authorities […] including measures against cybercrime.”

More specifically, proposals should contribute to the achievement of one or more of the following impacts:

  • Modern information analysis for Police Authorities, allowing them to efficiently fight criminals and terrorists who use novel technologies;
  • Improved forensics and lawful evidence collection, increasing the capabilities to apprehend criminals and terrorists and bring them to the court;
  • Enhanced prevention, detection and deterrence of societal issues related to various forms of crime, including cybercrime, and terrorism, such as violent radicalisation, domestic and sexual violence, or juvenile offenders;
  • Increased security of citizens against terrorism, including in public spaces (while preserving their quality and openness);
  • Improved intelligence picture and enhanced prevention, detection and deterrence of various forms of organised crime;
  • More secure cyberspace for citizens, especially children, through a robust prevention, detection, and protection from cybercriminal activities.

Furthermore, in order to accomplish the objectives of this Destination, additional eligibility conditions have been defined. They refer to the active involvement of relevant security practitioners or end-users.

Proposals involving earth observation are encouraged to primarily make use of Copernicus data, services and technologies.

Projects funded under this Destination are invited to closely cooperate with other EC-chaired or funded initiatives in the relevant domains, such as the Networks of Practitioners projects funded under H2020 Secure Societies work programmes, the Knowledge Networks for Security Research & Innovation funded under the Horizon Europe Cluster 3 Work Programme (”Strengthened Security Research and Innovation” Destination), or the Community of Users for Secure, Safe and Resilient Societies (future CERIS –Community of European Research and Innovation for Security).

Link Link to Programme
Call
Fight against firearms trafficking
Description of call
"Fight against firearms trafficking"

Expected Outcome:

Projects’ results are expected to contribute to some or all of the following outcomes:

  • Contribution to the implementation of the 2020-2024 EU Action Plan on firearms trafficking;
  • Improved intelligence picture of firearms trafficking in Europe, modus operandi of such criminal organisations, both offline and online;
  • European Police Authorities, Customs and Border Guards Authorities, as well as forensics specialists and prosecutors benefit from modern and validated tools, skills and training curricula (including on the lawful court-proof collection of crime evidence) to tackle criminal activities related to firearms trafficking;
  • Harmonised procedures in the investigation of trans-border crimes in full compliance with applicable legislation on protection of personal data;
  • Improved cooperation between European Police and Border Guards Authorities, as well as with international actors, in tackling this form of crime;
  • Strengthened ability of security practitioners to identify organised crime networks involved in firearms trafficking in an early stage;
  • Reduced diversion of firearms into criminal hands in Europe;
  • Enhanced ability of security practitioners to prevent the emergence of organised crime networks involved in firearms trafficking, and respond to the threat of existing organisations;
  • Improved shaping and tuning of regulation related to the fight against firearms trafficking by security policy-makers.

Scope:

Firearms are the lifeblood of organised crime in Europe as well as worldwide. Firearms trafficking is a big enabler of organised crime and terrorism. It is a high-time to fix a new agenda by:

1) analysing possibilities for safeguarding the legal market and preventing diversion, notably by developing technological solutions for addressing new threats such as 3D printed firearms, including distribution of blueprints for 3D printing of firearms, clamping of 3D printing machines and of blueprints, and their sale both offline and online (including darknet);

2) improving the intelligence picture in firearms trafficking, in particular by developing technological solutions to enable simultaneous searches/input in the Schengen Information System and Interpol’s iArms database, developing solutions to facilitate and approximate a systematic collection on data on all firearms seizures, and developing a European-level tool tracking in real-time all firearms-related incidents or shootings and extracting continuously updated data;

3) increasing knowledge on the legal limitations and room for improvement in police and judicial cooperation in the field of firearms trafficking, developing tools to enable automated cross-border exchange of ballistics information, and exploring how new and emerging approaches (such as, but not limited to, Artificial Intelligence) could help improve automated detection of firearms and firearms components through scanning of parcels and containers;

4) improving international cooperation by supporting operational cooperation between the Police Authorities and other relevant security practitioners of the EU and of third countries.

Activities proposed within this topic should address both technological and societal dimensions of the firearms trafficking. Connections with other forms of crime should be tackled too. The international dimension should be analysed as well, including but not limited to the firearms smuggling processes. Thus, both Police and Border Guards/Customs Authorities should be involved in the consortia, in order to tackle effectively all aspects of this crime. Coordination with successful proposals under topic HORIZON-CL3-2021-FCT-01-08, HORIZON-CL3-2021-FCT-01-09, HORIZON-CL3-2022-FCT-01-05, HORIZON-CL3-2022-FCT-01-06 and HORIZON-CL3-2022-FCT-01-07 should be envisaged so as to avoid duplication and to exploit complementarities as well as opportunities for increased impact. Proposed activities that could also link with security research for border management (for example, border checks or detection of concealed objects) would be an asset. If relevant, the proposed activities should attempt to complement the objectives and activities of the EU Policy Cycle (EMPACT) – Firearms. Due to the specific scope of this topic, in order to achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is encouraged. The testing and/or piloting of the tools and solutions developed in a real setting with one or more Police Authorities and other relevant authorities is an asset; regardless, actions should plan to facilitate the uptake, replication across setting and up-scaling of the capabilities - i.e. solutions, tools, processes et al. – to be developed by the project.

In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content should be addressed only if the consortium deems it relevant in relation to the objectives of the research effort.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Research & Innovation, Technology Transfer & Exchange, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Administration & Governance, Health, Social Affairs, Sports, Equal Rights, Human Rights, People with Disabilities, Social Inclusion, Justice, Safety & Security
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Eligible applicants Research Institution, International Organization, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, Public Services, Other, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Education and Training Centres, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, Association, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, National Government
Applicant details

eligible non-EU countries:

  • countries associated to Horizon Europe
At the date of the publication of the work programme, there are no countries associated to Horizon Europe. Considering the Union’s interest to retain, in principle, relations with the countries associated to Horizon 2020, most third countries associated to Horizon 2020 are expected to be associated to Horizon Europe with an intention to secure uninterrupted continuity between Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe. In addition, other third countries can also become associated to Horizon Europe during the programme. For the purposes of the eligibility conditions, applicants established in Horizon 2020 Associated Countries or in other third countries negotiating association to Horizon Europe will be treated as entities established in an Associated Country, if the Horizon Europe association agreement with the third country concerned applies at the time of signature of the grant agreement.

  • low-and middle-income countries

Legal entities which are established in countries not listed above will be eligible for funding if provided for in the specific call conditions, or if their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities - Affiliated entities are eligible for funding if they are established in one of the countries listed above.
  • EU bodies - Legal entities created under EU law may also be eligible to receive funding, unless their basic act states otherwise.
  • International organisations - International European research organisations are eligible to receive funding. Unless their participation is considered essential for implementing the action by the granting authority, other international organisations are not eligible to receive funding. International organisations with headquarters in a Member State or Associated Country are eligible to receive funding for ‘Training and mobility’actions and when provided for in the specific call conditions.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions , legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State;and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Call opens 30.06.2021
Call closes 23.11.2021
Further info

Proposal page limits and layout:

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A to be filled in directly online  (administrative information, summarised budget, call-specific questions, etc.)
  • Part B to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system

Page limit - Part B: 45 pages

Type of Funding Grants
Financial details
Expected EU contribution per projectThe Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 5.00 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of a proposal requesting different amounts.
Indicative budgetThe total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 10.00 million.
Typ of ActionInnovation Actions (IA)
Funding rate70% (except for non-profit legal entities, where a rate of up to 100% applies)

This topic requires the active involvement, as beneficiaries, of at least 2 Police Authorities and at least 2 Border Guards Authorities from at least 3 different EU Member States or Associated countries. For these participants, applicants must fill in the table “Eligibility information about practitioners” in the application form with all the requested information, following the template provided in the submission IT tool.

Some activities, resulting from this topic, may involve using classified background and/or producing of security sensitive results (EUCI and SEN). Please refer to the related provisions in section B Security — EU classified and sensitive information of the General Annexes.

Activities are expected to achieve TRL 6-7 by the end of the project.

To ensure a balanced portfolio, grants will be awarded to applications not only in order of ranking but at least also to those that are the highest ranked within set topics, provided that the applications attain all thresholds.
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System. Paper submissions are NOTpossible.

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