An ecosystem for European security. What the Commission’s new strategy provides for

Camilla Palla

In the context of the coordinated recovery action adopted in response of Covid-19 outbreak in the EU, on 24 July the European Commission presented the Security Union Strategy, an ambitious project that aims to identify priority measures and tools to achieve a more secure Union according to a multi-dimensional approach.

From protecting our critical infrastructure to fighting cybercrime and countering hybrid threats, we can leave no stone unturned when it comes to our securityMargaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, said. He also stressed that “This strategy will serve as an umbrella framework for our security policies, which must always be fully grounded in our common values.

The plan launched by the Commission, addressing both physical and digital threats, is built on an integrated approach that aims to coordinate action at the EU level with respect to both internal and external security. It will also require an effort in terms of inter-institutional coordination, starting with close cooperation with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The main purpose is to identify the actions that will inform the European Security Strategy for the next five years in a variety of areas such as the fight against terrorism and organised crime, prevention and detection of hybrid threats, protection and reinforcement of security in critical infrastructure, cyber security and, finally, strong support for research and innovation in this field.

The strategy is built on four priorities: the creation of a future-proof security environment, preparedness to tackle evolving threats, protect European citizens from terrorism and organised crime and, finally, create a strong European security ecosystem.

With respect to the first priority, the crisis generated by the spread of Coronavirus has highlighted the need to create a more resilient and prepared system at EU level: the increasing reliance on critical infrastructure – online and offline – requires coordinated action, promoting public-private cooperation, both at national and supranational level. By the end of the year, the Commission will propose new measures for the protection of critical infrastructures, in addition to the revision of the Network and Information Systems Security Directive (NIS Directive).

As existing threats change rapidly and new threats challenge the security of citizens, a robust and unified approach to the issue is needed. As regards the second priority, the Commission has presented a new approach to combating hybrid threats, from early detection to crisis response. Again, it has proposed joint action with the High Representative and other strategic partners including, for example, the G7 and NATO.

Terrorism and organised crime still remain major threats to the stability and prosperity of the EU and are among the key priorities underlying the European Security Strategy. In the field of terrorism, the cornerstone will be the fight against radicalisation by intervening within European societies themselves. At the same time, it will be necessary to strengthen border security legislation through close cooperation with third countries and international organisations. As far as organised crime is concerned, the strategy provides for numerous interventions in a number of different areas. These include the new Agenda on drugs, the new EU Action Plan against firearms trafficking and the EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling.

Lastly, the strategy intends to create a genuine European security ecosystem by strengthening Europol’s mandate and further developing the Eurojust network, with the aim of increasing cooperation between judicial authorities throughout Europe.

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