Tue. Nov 30th, 2021

(Speech on behalf of EU High Representative Borrell)

Strasbourg, 05/10/2021

Delivered

Check against delivery!

Madame President, Honourable Members,

Let me thank Rapporteur [Urmas] Paet for bringing cyber defence issues to our attention.

As highlighted in the report, in recent years we have seen continuous growth in cyber-attacks against the European Union and its Member States, which is affecting European security.

The best way to face these threats is to join forces and mobilise resources, as rightly indicated in the report. To protect cyberspace, we need to modernise our capabilities; advance research, training and exercises; and increase efforts to prevent, deter and respond to cyber-attacks.

The European Union cyber diplomacy toolbox has already proved its value in allowing Member States to take measures – including sanctions – to address cyber activities affecting them and threatening their security.

Our 2020 Joint European Union Cybersecurity Strategy for the Digital Decade allows us to increase our resilience; reinforce our capacities to prevent, deter and respond to cyber-attacks; and advance a global, open and secure cyberspace.

Building on this Strategy, we are reviewing the 2018 European Union Cyber Defence Policy Framework (CDPF) setting the political ambition for the European Union’s cyber defence policy, making full use of available instruments such as the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF). Cyber defence will also be a key aspect of the Strategic Compass, currently under development.  As is stressed in the report, our key challenge is to develop and use capabilities in a collaborative approach.

Today, within the European Defence Agency, we have a structured framework to support Member States in collaborative capability development and research activities. This allows for enhanced interoperability and pooling of scarce national resources.

The European Security and Defence College organises cyber training courses for military and civilian personnel from the European Union institutions, Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations and Member States to strengthen their coordination.

We also conduct exercises with cyber included, notably the European Union Integrated Resolve or the annual cyber diplomacy toolbox exercise. These exercises will help us to strengthen our common understanding of the procedures for mutual assistance and solidarity, as pointed out in the report.

Last month, the European Union Military Committee approved the European Union Military Vision and Strategy on Cyberspace as a Domain of Operations, which sets the framework to use cyberspace as a domain of operations in support of European Union CSDP military operations and missions.

And further responding to the need for more cooperation among national entities in charge of cyber defence, we have taken our first steps towards the establishment of a Military Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT) network.

As recommended in your report, the European External Action Service also works together with the Commission on the establishment of the Joint Cyber Unit (JCU) bringing together all cyber communities, including cyber defence and diplomacy, to better coordinate European Union action to prevent, deter and respond to cyber-attacks.

Finally, the report also calls to strengthen our coordination and cooperation with NATO in the framework of the Joint Declarations, which we do through our staff level dialogues and by conducting cyber scenario-based discussions and exercises.

In conclusion, we have made considerable progress in the past few years on cyber defence. At the same time, the ongoing work on the Strategic Compass and the review of our Framework for Cyber Defence Policy will allow us to further strengthen Member States’ capabilities and cooperation in this domain in view of a true European Union Cyber Defence Policy.

I thank you very much for the report and I look forward to this discussion.

Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-211316