Biothreat Perception and Policy Formation

An investigation of why and how threats of bioterrorism are being perceived in the ways that are now apparent, and of the influences of such threat perceptions on assessment of vulnerability and the consequent development of public policy.


The following description was downloaded on 18 January 2006 from the European Commission website, at

It is reproduced here verbatim - though in a few

respects it is now in need of updating.

ASSRBCVUL will assess the vulnerability of European society to radiological, biological and chemical terrorist attacks and propose and evaluate countermeasures.


European countries have had long experience of dealing with terrorist attacks, including major atrocities such as the train bombings in Madrid. But since the malicious release of sarin gas in Japan and anthrax spores in the US, governments now have to face the new possibility of terrorists deploying radiological, biological or chemical (RBC) agents. Such attacks could cause extensive injury and loss of life, as well as widespread economic damage and social disruption. How vulnerable is a modern interconnected society like the European Union to such attacks? What should we do to guard against them?

OVERVIEW: The ASSRBCVUL coordination action will: ·
  • Assemble a methodology to assess the impact of RBC terrorism on European society.
  • Generate an accurate and up-to-date intelligence estimate of the RBC terrorism threat.
  • Analyse the actual vulnerability of EU society and its critical infrastructure to the threat of RBC terrorism.
  • Produce an up-to-date list of existing and foreseen RBC terrorism countermeasures.
  • Use the vulnerability analysis to assess the potential of these countermeasures.
  • Suggest an optimal mix of existing and potentially new countermeasures.

  • Compile the latest data on the possible threat of RBC terror attacks to inform decision-making.
  • Assist policy-makers in planning and assessing counter-terrorism measures at national, EU and international levels.
  • Contribute to the development of European research policy in the area of counter-terrorism.


The deliverables in this project are reports intended for a select audience. They will be delivered as follows:
  • Working paper on model description - February 2005.
  • Working papers on threat analysis, vulnerabilities and countermeasures - June 2005.
  • Working paper on relevant scenarios - October 2005.
  • Interim report - December 2005.
  • Working paper on assessment of countermeasures - October 2006.
  • Final report - February 2007.

DISSEMINATION Some of the project’s findings will be made available through different means, such as:
  • At symposia including the US-EU bilateral conference on combating terrorism.
  • Press releases for the general public.
  • Possible public website and newsletters.
  • Meeting between consortium members and representatives from EU Member States.


Project acronym: ASSRBCVUL

Project’s official full title: Assessment of the vulnerabilities of modern societies to terrorist acts employing radiological, biological or chemical agents with the view to assist in developing preventative and suppressive crisis management strategies

Research priority: 2.7 - civil protection

Specific webpage: Not yet available

Proposal/contract no: 502476 Start date: 01/03/04

Kick off meeting: March 2004, Madrid Completion date: 28/02/07 European

Commission scientific officer: Paul Vossen (

Coordinator: Name: Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research Abbreviated Name: TNO Address: Prins Maurits Laboratory, PO Box 45, 2280 AA Rijswijk (ZH) Country: Netherlands Tel: +31 15 284 3512 Fax: +31 15 284 3963 Website:

Partners Name: Compagnie Européenne d’Intelligence Stratégique Abbreviated Name: CEIS Country: France

Name: Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia Abbreviated Name: CSIC Country: Spain

Name: University of Sussex Abbreviated Name: UofS Country: United Kingdom

Name: EU JRC - Institute for Prospective Technological Studies Abbreviated Name: IPTS Country: Spain

Name: Swedish Defence Research Agency Abbreviated Name: FOI Country: Sweden

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