News from Europe

02 December 2015

Maritime Security Conference

A high level conference to discuss maritime security issues explored challenges arising from the European Union’s Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS) and its associated Action Plan. The benefits and opportunities for further cooperation also provoked much discussion between the stakeholders and national subject experts who attended.

The Maritime Security Conference, conducted by the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus and the European Defence Agency (EDA), in the framework of the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU Council, was held in Cyprus from 11-13 November.

The need for a rapid and coherent EU response to the migrant crisis brought added emphasis to the discussions – only reinforced by the symbolism of hosting the event in a Mediterranean venue. Furthermore, the focus of the topics addressed, such as implementation of the EUMSS, the protection of strategic maritime infrastructure and sea-lines of communication, and the protection and development of ocean wealth, were of high interest to attendees.

“For the EDA, the EUMSS was the platform to plug-in its ongoing activities and, where appropriate, to adapt existing initiatives or develop new ones. In the revised Capability Development Plan, ‘Maritime Patrolling and Escorting’ and ‘Maritime Surveillance’ are two priority actions,” said Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, who was one of the key speakers at the conference and a participant in a panel discussion on the EU Maritime Security Strategy.

Peter Round, EDA Capability, Armaments and Technology Director, moderated three panel talks and chaired a round table discussion in which high level stakeholders shared their maritime security challenges and opportunities.

“European prosperity, like any economic centre in our global economy, is based on successful exploitation of the sea and, at times, the ability to exert control through the use of force. A reduction in our level of ambition from Open Seas to the Littoral could bring about ‘sea blindness’, shrinking Europe’s sea-going vision to what could be termed a ‘coast guard function’. I’d far rather see us aspire to a ‘sea guard function’ to ensure our ongoing freedom of manoeuvre on the High Seas – i.e.: Sea Power,” he said. 

Additionally, the conference included a session dedicated to research and technological aspects of the EUMSS which encompassed the local academic and research communities.