BRUSSELS --- EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq this afternoon closed the Agency’s Annual Conference 2017 with a call to use the EU’s new defence tools and the EDA’s full potential for enhancing cyber cooperation and helping Member States’ armed forces to plan, develop, acquire and use the required defence capabilities.
In his final remarks wrapping up the conference, Mr Domecq thanked all the speakers for their contributions: Federica Mogherini, the Head of the Agency; Julian King, the EU Commissioner in charge of the Security Union; Kersti Kaljulaid, the President of Estonia; Mikko Hypponen, the Chief Research Officer of F-Secure. He also expressed gratitude to all the distinguished members of the two panels who shared their expertise and assessments and sparked lively discussions with the audience.
Mr Domecq singled out several key takeaways from this year’s conference, in particular:
-- Cyber threats affect all military capabilities. It’s therefore essential to strengthen the cyber resilience elements in the development of all future platforms & systems, across land, air, maritime or space domains;
-- Armed forces need to learn their lessons from previous incidents more rapidly and efficiently so as to be able to better prevent, detect and respond to future attacks;
-- Europe is stronger if it tackles cyber threats together, in a common and coordinated approach encompassing the full military dimension of cyber defence;
-- Member States need to better coordinate their cyber strategies to avoid fragmentation, to ensure and improve interoperability, and to protect special requirements of the military;
-- Strategies and policies are essential but what really matters at the end of the day are the capabilities in place to counter cyberattacks. The most effective way for Member States’ armed forces to identify, plan, develop, procure and eventually use these capabilities is by doing it together;
-- New EU defence cooperation tools such as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF) are now in place. They need to be used in the best possible way;
-- PESCO, in particular, could be a game changer for defence and offer a welcome cooperation framework for Member States to take forward priority projects, including on cyber;
-- The European Defence Fund, for its part, will offer new funding opportunities for cooperative projects. Specifically, at the upstream R&T level, it could support the development of cyber defence technologies identified in the future OSRA, and of related Technology Building Blocks;
-- The European Commission’s new Cyber Package, if properly implemented, can contribute to increased security in the Fifth Domain provided that duplication is avoided and that the specificities of the military dimension are fully taken on board;
-- Continuous engagement with other parties such as NATO is paramount to ensure continued coherence of output;
-- Dialogue with industry is equally important to secure the required future capabilities and the appropriate degree of strategic autonomy.
EDA prepared to play its part
As far as the EDA’s cyber work is concerned, “2018 will see the topic stay centre stage at the Agency’s work plan”, with a particular focus on three main activities.
Firstly, the Capability Development Plan (CDP) revision in spring is expected to include new cyber defence needs and priorities some of which were already flagged during the 2016 EDA Table Top Exercise on hybrid threats.
Secondly, the Agency looks forward to seeing the Initial Operational Capability of the CSDP Cyber Training & Exercise Platform next year in close cooperation with the European Security & Defence College. The project on pooling demand for cyber defence training and exercise support by the private sector should also reach its conclusion.
And thirdly, on facilitating the interface with wider EU policies, the EDA will continue its work on the implementation of the Cyber Defence Policy Framework.
The Agency is also considering to set up a dedicated Capability Technology Group (or Cap Tech) on cyber defence. In all of these activities, “engagement with industry will be of central importance to enable our Member States to develop the capabilities they need to stay ahead in tomorrow’s cyberspace”, Mr Domecq stressed.
“Our work to improve Europe’s cybersecurity and cyber defence is still in its initial phases. We must lose no time in embracing this golden opportunity to both plan and implement the next steps together. Only in doing so will we ensure that the advent of the digital era remains an opportunity for European citizens in the 21st century”, the EDA Chief Executive concluded.