Working on a stronger Europe when it comes to security and defence. Increasing cooperation with NATO.
Hybrid threats refer to mixture of activities often combining conventional and unconventional methods that can be used in a coordinated manner by state and non-state actors while remaining below the threshold of formally declared warfare not only to cause direct damage and exploit vulnerabilities, but also to destabilise societies and create ambiguity to hinder decision-making.
Resilience is the capacity of individuals, local communities or governmental institutions to withstand, to adapt, and to recover quickly from stresses and shocks like natural disasters, financial problems or military conflicts. According to OECD, these types of crisis are becoming more frequent and more costly – requests to deal with the impact of disasters have increased by 660% since 2000, peaking at 18.6 billion in 2015. Also, the inter-connectedness of the global economy means that crises in one part of the world can impact other parts of the world.
Yesterday, the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, adopted a Joint Framework to counter hybrid threats and foster the resilience of the #EU, its Member States and partner countries while increasing cooperation with NATO on countering these threats due to the fact that the exposition of the #EU and its Member States to this type of threats has increased in recent years.
Federica Mogherini said: “In recent years, the security environment has changed dramatically. We have seen the rise of hybrid threats on #EU's borders. There has been a strong call for the #EU to adapt and increase its capacities as a security provider. The relationship between internal and external security needs to be further strengthened. With these new proposals, we want to enhance our capacity to counter threats of hybrid nature. In this effort, we will also step up cooperation and coordination with NATO.”
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “The #EU must become a security provider, able to adapt, anticipate and react to the changing nature of the threats we are facing. This means enhancing our resilience and security from within while increasing our capacity to counter emerging external threats. With this Framework, we act together to counter common hybrid threats. We are presenting concrete proposals for the Union and Member States to increase cooperation in security and defence, improve resilience, address strategic vulnerabilities and prepare a coordinated response.”
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine unleashed a major disinformation campaign in the Russian news media. Manipulation of information against Ukraine was identified by some analysts as part of Russia’s wider 'information warfare' against the West. Russia is investing heavily in media outlets that are targeting foreign audiences, notably radio service Sputnik and international broadcaster RT.
The #EU Task Force countering the Russian disinformation campaign started work in September 2015. Its aim is to work on developing communication products and media campaigns that focus on explaining #EU policies in the Eastern neighbourhood region as well as monitoring the media.
The European Parliament called on the Commission "to earmark without delay adequate funding for concrete projects aimed at countering Russian propaganda and misinformation within the #EU and abroad." In two resolutions MEPs reiterate "the EEAS and the Commission to present an action plan with concrete measures to counter the Russian propaganda".
The European Union and NATO occupy different parts of the resilience spectrum but there is also considerable overlap in the middle. "A joined-up approach based on a shared situational awareness and coordination of responses is key to a successful response," said Jamie Shea, NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges.
Currently NATO is talking with the #EU on enhanced cooperation in four areas: civil-military planning; cyber defence; information-sharing; and analysis and coordinated strategic communication to spot disinformation. A technical arrangement between the NATO NCIRC and the #EU Computer Emergency Response Team (#EU CERT) for the exchange of information was concluded in early February.
"It is also important that NATO and the #EU work together to tackle other resilience challenges that do not result from deliberate attacks. The most urgent of these is the migration crisis," Shea added.
NATO has recently deployed a maritime task force in the Aegean to work with Greece, Turkey and Frontex, the #EU Agency, to monitor the flow of refugees and migrants and in this way help to curb the illegal activities of smugglers and traffickers.
The #EU needs to adapt constantly as new vulnerabilities and threats emerge from non-state actors such as Daesh / ISIS, as much as from some state actors. Resilience is here to stay as a core element of collective defence.