Marietje Schaake asked the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini today the following written question.
Today the EU unveiled its Defence Action Plan, which intends to significantly improve defence spending in the EU, inter alia by avoiding duplication of spending efforts. However, last week 10 EU Member States and the U.S announced they would establish a 'joint centre to combat hybrid warfare threats' in Helsinki, with a proposed budget of 2 million euros. The aim of the centre will be to increase EU members’ awareness of and resistance to hybrid threats and their ability to combat them, and identify the players behind them. (1)
1. What will be the relationship between this new centre, the EU foreign affairs council, the External Action Service and NATO, and how will overlap between the mandates and activities of these institutions be avoided?
2. How would this centre avoid duplicating the work of the East StratCom Task Force?
The Commission answered three months later the following:
The Joint Communication by the European Commission and the High Representative to the European Parliament and the Council ‘Joint framework on countering hybrid threats — a European Union response’, adopted on 6 April 2016, foresees among the actionable proposals to invite EU Member States to consider establishing a Centre of Excellence for ‘countering hybrid threats’. Finland has stepped up to propose Helsinki as a location for such a centre of excellence. Some EU Member States, as well as some non-EU NATO parties, have expressed interest in joining. It is expected that the Center will form in late 2017 or early 2018.
The purpose of the Centre will be to serve as a hub of subject matter expertise supporting participants' efforts to enhance the development of their preparedness and civil-military capabilities to counter hybrid threats as well as to contribute to analyses and studies jointly with a network of communities of interest maintained by the participating countries in order to gain a better understanding of hybrid threats and societies' vulnerabilities.
At the current state of preparations, it is not foreseen that the EU or NATO will be formal members of the Centre. However, staff representatives from the European Union (both EEAS and Commission Services) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisations could be invited to participate in the activities of the Centre. Since the future Centre is independent of the EU, there will be no formal relationship with the Foreign Affairs Council.