Maritime securityNaval integration key to EU sea security

Published 20 November 2007

European naval and maritime leaders call for greater cooperation among EU member-states’ navies, police forces, and coast guards to bolster Europe’s port and maritime security

European military officials say the navies, police forces, and coast guards of EU member states need to work together more closely to ensure EU maritime security. A workshop in Brussels two weeks ago heard calls from several senior naval officials for closer cooperation with national and EU law-enforcement and counterterrorism agencies, according to Jane’s International Defense Review. Vice Admiral Anthony Dymock, British military representative to NATO and the EU, told the workshop, organized by the Security & Defense Agenda, a Brussels-based think tank, that there were “encouraging signs that navies, national civil maritime security authorities and EU agencies such as the (European Defense Agency) are making progress” on improving cooperation and interoperability. “Most navies now recognize that we cannot do it all ourselves, and that the primary lead has to come from civilian actors,” he said. Dymock called for a new agreement between European nations to define responsibilities and establish ground rules for the sharing of information like satellite imagery and intelligence. Such seamless information-sharing is the key to what specialists refer to as maritime domain awareness —- the ability to map and track objects at sea as they pass from one country’s waters into another.

For the first time all nations now agree that the maritime environment must become a controlled one similar to air space,” Vice Admiral Ferdinando Sanfelice di Monteforte, Italy’s military representative to the EU and NATO, told the workshop. He said the Italian navy used situational awareness information from all Mediterranean “blue water” and littoral forces, whether NATO or EU, which represented “a big shift in thinking.” “There is a proven willingness among our navies to work together,” he said.

Paul Nemitz, deputy head of the maritime security task force within the European Commission maritime and fisheries policy directorate, said that there was a degree of organizational overlap between different civilian and military agencies at the national as well as the EU level. A proper division of labor was needed, he said, adding that the Dutch model, in which the navy was the single service provider for all government activity on the sea, providing assets for both regulatory, law enforcement and military agencies, was a good example of a streamlined approach to maritime security.