The Common Defence and Security Policy is part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union. It provides the EU with capacities to exercise rights using civil and military crisis management tools.
The goals of the Common Defence and Security Policy is to develop the crisis management capabilities held by the institutions and member states of the EU, and ensure a coordinated use of the civil and military capabilities in overcoming crisis situations. These capabilities of the EU are crucial in solving today’s crisis situations because they allow to overcome crisis situations, starting from preventive elimination to post-conflict stabilization and development assistance.
The accomplished of the Ministry of Defence during the Latvian presidency in the EU Council
1. Decision on the revision of the European Security Strategy
During the last year we have witnessed dramatic changes in the international security environment which can affect the safety of our society and every European citizen.
First, the situation in Ukraine has clearly shown the impact of hybrid threats to the stability and sovereignty of independent countries. We witnessed how in Crimea, Russia manipulated and affected the citizens of a sovereign country, using various forms of power. We have also observed dramatic events in the Middle East and Africa. The terrorist group “Islamic State” (ISIL) has expanded its influence across the traditional national borders. And the security situation in Libya is very fragile, while the creation of a democratic country continues.
In Europe this instability has contributed to the threat of terrorism and increased migration flows. The threats created by ISIL can destroy the core of all European values and principles. The attacks in Paris have served as a reminder for an immediate action to deal with such threats at their root, as well as shown what is it that we risk with if we refuse to react.
During the informal meeting of defence ministers of the EU, which took place in Riga, an agreement was reached on the need for changes to the current European Security Strategy in order to adapt the EU to the new security environment in a strategical level as well.
On June 26 in Brussels, the European Council held a discussion on defence, during which a task was set to develop a new European Union Foreign and Security Strategy until June 2016.
2. Work begun on a common framework for EU resistance against hybrid threats
The nature of modern threats and challenges has allowed to understand that in the context of hybrid threats the borders between peace and conflict are becoming vaguer. These threats have marked the beginning of a new trend where countries and non-state groups use a mix of conventional, irregular, terroristic and cybercrime means to reach their aims. In Latvia we have observed this tendency clearly in the audiovisual space. Russian-sponsored propaganda is being spread in our society that mainly spreads false information and expresses a negative attitude towards the West, supporting the aims of the Russian foreign policy. The willingness of Russia to ignore the truth in the information space is of particular concern, and it is very likely that the actions taken by it will create significant challenges.
During the Latvian presidency in the EU Council, the defence ministers of the EU have agreed that there is a need to develop a common reference framework in order to facilitate the stability of the EU against hybrid threats. The defence ministers of the EU also have agreed that the development of the strategical communication skills of the EU has to be facilitated. Latvia has emphasised and the member states of the EU have agreed that the efforts of the EU to strengthen strategic communication have to be mutually complementary with NATO.
On March 10 the European Council decided that there is a need to develop an EU Strategic Communication Action Plan. A communication work group was created, and the action plan is developed by the EU External Action Service in cooperation with EU member states and EU institutions. On June 26 the European Council asked to initiate the development of the common reference framework in order to improve the stability of EU and partners against hybrid threats. Importantly, on May 17 in the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council it was also emphasised that in this area the EU should work together with NATO to avoid duplication of efforts and to effectively utilize resources.
3. Cybersecurity facilitated in the European Union
Taking into account the current trends when there is growing participation of society in the cyberspace, and the range and use of information and communication technologies, respectively there is a growing number of cyberattacks and the methods with which they are performed.
Because the risks and threats in the cyberspace reach beyond borders of countries and regions, there is a need for a common and coordinated cybersecurity policy not only in the EU, but also globally. On February 10 the conclusions of the Council on cyberdiplomacy were endorsed in order to facilitate and protect a common, open, free and secure cyberspace in which the fundamental values of the EU are respected. The conclusion of the Council on cyberdiplomacy determine the external policy of the EU and the strategic objectives for the development of the cyberspace.
“Digital Europe” was one of the priorities of Latvia’s presidency in the EU Council, but cybersecurity – one of its three basic elements. As priorities for this area of the policy the Ministry of Defence had set the approval of the Network and Information Security Directive, and the initiative on implementation possibilities of a responsible incident detection policy at the EU level.
The mentioned directive will improve the security of information and networks, by setting requirements for security risk management and facilitating cooperation and exchange of information on incidents. Intensive work was done on the text of the directive within the presidency in order to reach an agreement between EU member states and the European Parliament of its important questions – what areas will the directive cover, how the directive will work and how to ensure a unitary implementation of it. We have solved several contentious issues, agreeing on the mechanisms of cooperation and information exchange, and specifying the critical fields, such as energy, transport, financial and banking sector, to which the directive will be attributed. At the end of the presidency, a number of compromises were reached on the most important political principles and the most significant elements of the directive – the unitary implementation of the directive and its application to various digital platforms. Therefore only the clarification of technical details will remain in the competence of the Luxembourg presidency.
Security in the virtual space is impossible to reach only with a regulation and strict rules, thus, using the role of Presidency in various discussion formats of the EU, Latvia called on the EU Member States to assess implementation possibilities of a responsible incident detection policy. This policy gives the society a chance to voluntarily participate in the identification and prevention of flaws in information technology. For long-term promotion of the initiative, cooperation with the future presidencies was launched – Luxembourg and the Netherlands. At the same time the work on creating a national responsible incident detection policy will be continued.