In October, the European Council approved the European Union’s Maritime Security Strategy and Action Plan to address security challenges at sea.
The aim of these improvements is to ensure that the EU has a variety of effective tools to address evolving security threats and new challenges, such as the increasing strategic competition for power and resources in the Union’s sea basins and beyond, environmental degradation, and hybrid and cyber-attacks against maritime infrastructures.
The Strategy provides a framework for the EU to adopt new measures to defend its interests at sea and protect its citizens, its values and its economy. The list of the six strategic objectives that have been translated into more than 150 concrete actions in the Action Plan is as follows:
- Intensify activities at sea. The EU plans to organize annual maritime security exercises, carried out by coastguards and armed forces of the Member States.
One of the key actions is to intensify the fight against illegal and illicit activities at sea, such as piracy and armed robbery; organised crime, including smuggling of migrants; and irregular, unreported and unregulated fishing. It is also intended to strengthen safety inspections in the Union’s seaports.
- Cooperate with partners. It is planned to intensify partnerships with like-minded countries and with regional and international organisations, promoting dialogue and best practices and defending the maritime order.
- Take the lead in maritime downtime awareness. This includes improving the collection and exchange of information.
- Manage risks and threats. Improve the collective resilience and preparedness of the EU in order to protect critical maritime infrastructures such as pipelines, submarine cables, ports, gas terminals, etc.
- Improve capabilities. Develop common techniques for surface and underwater defence technologies, as well as create interoperable unmanned systems to monitor critical maritime infrastructures.
- Educate and train. Another aim of the Strategy is to achieve a high level of specialised education, skills and training, which is essential for the EU to deal with present and future maritime security challenges.
Some of the key actions in this area are centred around the skills required to deal with hybrid and cyber threats and the implementation of specific training programs open to non-EU partners.
The implementation of the Strategy will be assessed in three years, in a joint progress report to be prepared by the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.