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Hybrid threats against harbours: workshop at EDA

How can naval capabilities mitigate hybrid threats against European harbours? What steps could and should be taken to improve resilience of European harbours and which kind of cooperation is best suited to achieve this? These and many other questions were discussed at a joint workshop on Harbour protection under hybrid threat conditions’ organized by the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid C0E) today at the EDA premises.

Picture: Bundeswehr

Presentations and discussions focused on the broad multifaceted nature of the harbour protection and the implications on capability development in support of force protection and mobility.  The workshop took place in the context of the implementation of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration, aiming to promote a coherence between the EU and NATO in bolstering resilience. The EDA and the Hybrid Centre of Excellence cooperate to promote the effective implementation of the Joint Declaration in areas of common interest and notably on bolstering hybrid resilience.

In his opening speech, EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq stressed the economic and strategic importance of harbours in Europe, including in the military domain. “We cannot omit their huge role in providing mobility and sustainability of military forces. It’s not a surprise that civilian harbours play a significant role in the security system of individual Member States, but also in the European system. None of the CSDP missions or operations could be conducted without free and safe access to the seaports. Hybrid attacks on seaports can have serious consequences, leading to disruptions to travel and supply chains”, Mr Domecq stated.

He welcomed the timing of the workshop as the revision of the European Capability Development Plan (CDP), scheduled to be accomplished end of June, is now on the home straight. “The outcome of this workshop, which will be presented in the form of a report to the Capability Directors in June, will have a positive impact on maritime capability development in the nearest future”, he stressed.

In his speech, the Director of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, Matti Saarelainen, put a particular emphasis on the need for international cooperation in this crucial domain. "As international interdependency increases, it is necessary to assess and develop security more comprehensively than in the past. Hence, all stakeholders should be equally aware of the nature of the hybrid threats and share the level of awareness among them. What is essential is cooperation between and among individual countries, the EU and NATO, and sharing of experiences and best practices among them", he stated.