The Strategic Compass of the European Union

Pillar 2: Secure - Strategic Compass of the European Union


Pillar 2: Secure

We need to best prepare for fast-emerging challenges. Our strategic competitors are targeting us with a broad set of tools and testing our resilience with the aim to diminish our security and actively undermine our secure access to the maritime, air, cyber and space domains. We are increasingly confronted with threats of a hybrid nature.

Furthermore, transnational threats such as terrorism and arms proliferation remain a continuous challenge. We need to significantly bolster our resilience by better anticipating, detecting and responding to such threats. The regular and structured review of our Threat Analysis will help in this regard, but it is only one element.


Strengthening our early warning, intelligence picture and secure communications

We will invest more in shared analysis to increase our situational awareness and strategic foresight, building on our Early Warning System and horizon scanning mechanism. We will strengthen our intelligence-based situational awareness and relevant EU capacities, notably in the framework of the EU Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity, as well as the EU Satellite Centre.

This will also bring us closer to a common strategic culture and contribute to the EU’s credibility as a strategic actor. We need to maintain our excellence in ensuring autonomous EU decisionmaking, including based on geospatial data. We will reinforce the role of the EU Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity as single entry point for strategic intelligence contributions from Member States’ civilian and military intelligence and security services. This will facilitate the exchange of strategic intelligence to better respond to the challenges we are facing and provide improved services to decision-makers across EU Institutions and Member States.

As its institutions are subject to an increasing number of cyberattacks or attempts to intrude their systems, the EU needs to enhance the protection of its most critical processes, assets and information and ensure that it can rely on robust and trustworthy information and adequate European communication systems.

A strengthened intelligence picture will require enhanced secure communications. To this end, we will streamline security rules and regulations as well as bolster the common approach by the Member States, EU Institutions, bodies and agencies, as well as CSDP missions and operations, to the protection of information, infrastructure and communication systems. This will require investments in state-of-the-art European technical equipment, infrastructure and expertise. Building on the EU Cybersecurity Strategy, we call upon the EU institutions, agencies and bodies to adopt additional standards and rules on information and cyber security, as well as on the protection of EU classified information and sensitive nonclassified information, thus facilitating secured exchanges with Member States.


Hybrid threats, cyber diplomacy and foreign information manipulation and interference

We will substantially enhance our resilience and ability to counter hybrid threats, cyberattacks and foreign information manipulation and interference. State and non-state foreign actors are constantly refining and thereby strengthening their tactics, techniques and procedures, such as the instrumentalisation of irregular migration, lawfare, as well as coercion targeting our economic and energy security.

A wide range of existing and possible new EU tools will therefore be brought together within a broader EU Hybrid Toolbox. This toolbox should provide a framework for a coordinated response to hybrid campaigns affecting the EU and its Member States and should comprise for instance preventive, cooperative, stabilisation, restrictive and recovery measures, as well as strengthen solidarity and mutual assistance. Member States may propose coordinated attribution of hybrid activities, recognising that attribution is a sovereign national prerogative. Our response requires the full mobilisation of all relevant civilian and military instruments where appropriate, drawing from external and internal policies.

It also needs to be based on a common understanding and assessment of these threats. Therefore, we will strengthen our ability to detect, identify and analyse such threats and their source. In this regard, the Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC), in particular the Hybrid Fusion Cell, will provide foresight and situational awareness. As part of this broader EU Hybrid Toolbox, we need to bolster our societal and economic resilience, protect critical infrastructure, as well as our democracies and EU and national electoral processes. We will also create EU Hybrid Rapid Response Teams adaptable to the threat and drawing on relevant sectoral national and EU civilian and military expertise to support Member States, CSDP missions and operations and partner countries in countering hybrid threats. We will ensure synergies and explore further avenues for counter-hybrid cooperation with NATO.

We must also be able to swiftly and forcefully respond to cyberattacks, such as state-sponsored malicious cyber activities targeting critical infrastructure and ransomware attacks. To this end, we will reinforce our ability to identify and analyse cyberattacks in a coordinated manner. We will strengthen the EU Cyber Diplomacy Toolbox and make full use of all its instruments, including preventive measures and sanctions on external actors for malicious cyber activities against the Union and its Member States.

We will contribute to the EU’s Joint Cyber Unit to enhance joint situational awareness and cooperation between EU Institutions and Member States. We will firmly respond to foreign information manipulation and interference, as we did through our decisive and coordinated action against Russia’s disinformation campaign in the context of its military aggression against Ukraine.

We will continue to do so in full coherence with EU internal policies, by establishing a common understanding of the threat as well as further developing a range of instruments to effectively detect, analyse and address it and impose costs on the perpetrators of such activities.

To enhance our societal resilience, we will also strengthen access to credible information and free and independent media across the Union. To this end, and as called for in the European Democracy Action Plan, we will develop the EU toolbox to address and counter foreign information manipulation and interference, including in our CSDP missions and operations.

It will strengthen our response options, our resilience capacities and cooperation both within the EU and in support of partner countries, and improve situational awareness via the Rapid Alert System. We will also take forward the joint operational mechanism on electoral processes and a possible designation of election infrastructure as critical infrastructure. We will continue to work with like-minded partners, such as NATO, the G7 as well as civil society and private sector and increase our efforts within the UN framework.


Securing our access to strategic domains

We will further develop the EU’s Cyber Defence Policy to protect, detect, defend and deter against cyberattacks. It will boost research and innovation, stimulate the EU's industrial base and promote education and training to ensure that we are ready to act. It will increase cooperation among the EU's and Member States' cyber defence actors and develop mechanisms for leveraging capabilities at the EU level, including in the context of CSDP missions and operations. It will also strengthen cooperation with like-minded partners in the area of cyber defence, notably NATO. A new European Cyber Resilience Act will increase our common approach to cyber infrastructure and standards. We will work towards the establishment of a European infrastructure of Security Operations Centres.

In line with the 2020 EU Cybersecurity Strategy, we will develop the Union’s cyber posture by enhancing our ability to prevent cyberattacks through capacity building, capability development, training, exercises, enhanced resilience and by responding firmly to cyberattacks against the Union, its Institutions and its Member States using all available EU tools. We will further signal our determination to provide immediate and long-term responses to threat actors seeking to deny a secure and open access to cyberspace to the EU and its partners. We will support our partners in enhancing their cyber resilience and, in cases of cyber crises, deploy EU and Member States’ experts to offer support.

Through regular exercises in the cyber domain we will contribute to further increasing solidarity and mutual assistance. We will strengthen our cyber intelligence capacities to enhance our cyber resilience, also providing effective support to our civilian and military CSDP missions and operations, as well as our armed forces. We will increase interoperability and information sharing through cooperation between military computer emergency response teams (mil CERT), as well as in the conduct of defensive cyber operations. We recognise that enhancing our cybersecurity is a way to increase the effectiveness and security of our efforts on land, in the air, at sea and in outer space.

Our freedom of action depends on safe, secure and autonomous access to the space domain. We need to be prepared for a more competitive and contested space environment. Due to our increasing dependency on space systems and services, we are more vulnerable to irresponsible and threatening behaviour by strategic competitors. The growing number of objects in orbit and space debris are also increasing risks and tensions.

The EU Space Programme and other space infrastructure of the Union and its Member States contribute to our resilience. They offer key services that substitute or complement ground infrastructures for earth observation, satellite navigation or telecommunication. EU space systems should offer global connectivity to security and defence actors. To this end, we will work on the proposal for an EU space-based global secure communication system, including through the Union Secure Connectivity Programme for 2023-2027.

Recognising that the EU’s space assets are under civil control, and acknowledging the importance of the EU Space Programme, there is a pressing need to complement the current space strategy and enhance the security and defence dimensions of the Union in space.

A new EU Space Strategy for security and defence will help us build a common understanding of space-related risks and threats, develop appropriate responses and capabilities to react better and faster to crises, strengthen our resilience and make full use of the benefits and opportunities linked to the space domain. Such a strategy should for instance include political, operational, diplomatic and governance dimensions.

We will continue to invest in space situational awareness to better understand and reduce space-based risks, threats and vulnerabilities. We will strengthen dual-use innovation and invest in capability development in order for Europe to benefit from an autonomous access to space.

We will protect space supply chains and invest in critical space technologies in coordination with the European Defence Agency and the European Space Agency. We will also strengthen the resilience of related European supply chains to ensure the integrity, the security and the operations of space infrastructure.

We will work closely together with partners in reducing threats in line with ongoing efforts in the United Nations on the development of norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour in outer space. We will work towards a common EU approach on space traffic management, building upon the Joint Communication from the Commission and the High Representative.

We will conduct exercises to test the resilience of our space assets, and identify necessary means to address vulnerabilities to react quickly and firmly to space-related threats in case of emergency or crisis. Further to the validation of the Galileo threat response mechanism, we will expand it to other components of the EU Space Programme. We aim to also further strengthen solidarity, mutual assistance and crisis response in case of attacks originating from space or threats to space-based assets, including through exercises.

The air domain is critical to secure our territories and populations as well as for international trade and travel. State and non-state actors are challenging our security, both on EU territory and beyond, for instance by hijacking civilian planes as well as the increasing use of drones and new technologies.

Advanced military capabilities such as unmanned aerial vehicles, mid and long range air defences, and modern aircraft proliferate worldwide and increasingly challenge the safe and unconstrained use of the airspace. Free and secure access to the airspace is also being challenged by anti-access and area denial strategies of our competitors, notably in our neighbourhood. In close cooperation with relevant civil aviation stakeholders as well as NATO, we will take forward a strategic reflection to preserve our uncontested access to the airspace.

Building on an update of the EU Maritime Security Strategy and its Action Plan, we will further invest in our maritime security and global presence, and thus ensure unfettered access to the high seas and sea lanes of communication, as well as respect for the international law of the sea. Provocative unlawful acts at sea, criminal activities such as piracy, trafficking, disputes on maritime areas and excessive claims, access denial and hybrid threats all undermine our maritime security.

In order to protect our maritime interests and critical maritime infrastructure, including on our seabeds, we will enhance our capacity to collect and provide accurate information and intelligence to bolster situational awareness, including through information sharing between civilian and military actors. To this end, we will continue to develop joint operational, capability and technological solutions, including by making best use of the framework of Permanent Structured Cooperation.

We will further develop the Coordinated Maritime Presences mechanism, as well as reinforce interactions and coordination between our CSDP naval operations and relevant actors. To increase our maritime readiness and resilience, we will organise regular naval exercises of Member States’ navies and coast guards. We will also make full use of our partnership policy in the maritime domain, for example by port calls, training and exercises as well as capacity building.


Countering terrorism

We will strengthen our response to better prevent and counter terrorism. Using our CSDP instruments as well as other tools, we will support partner countries, including through diplomatic engagement and political dialogue, stabilisation efforts, programmes for preventing and countering violent extremism and cooperation in the area of rule of law, while promoting full respect of human rights and international law.

We will step up our engagement with strategic partners, including the UN and in other multilateral fora, such as the Global Counter Terrorism Forum and the Global Coalition against Da’esh. We will also tackle new developments, such as the use of new technologies for terrorism financing and the dissemination of terrorist content online. We will further strengthen our network of counter-terrorism experts in EU Delegations.


Promoting disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control

We will uphold, support and further advance the disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control framework. We will continue to support the centrality of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and stress the need to implement all obligations under it, and commitments during previous Review Conferences, including the need for concrete progress towards the full implementation of Article VI, with the ultimate goal of total elimination of nuclear weapons.

We are resolved to seek a safer and more secure world for all in accordance with the goals of the Treaty in a way that promotes international stability, peace and security. We need to increase our capacities to control intangible transfers, including scientific knowledge where necessary. This entails protecting and reinforcing existing export control regimes. Confronted with new challenges emerging from new technologies, the EU remains committed to preserve the disarmament, nonproliferation and arms control architecture. A coordinated approach with partners is also essential in this regard.

Regarding arms control, the EU and its Member States will intensify their exchanges and efforts on possible arms control solutions taking into account their security interests and in close coordination with partners, notably the United States and NATO. We will further work on this issue.

We will continue to call for reduction of arsenals by the States with the largest nuclear arsenal through post-New START agreements, including strategic and non-strategic, deployed nuclear weapons, and further discussions on confidence-building measures, verification, transparency on nuclear doctrines and strategic risk reduction measures.


Enhancing resilience to climate change, disasters and emergencies

Climate change and environmental degradation are not only threats in themselves, but risk multipliers. Global warming leads to more frequent and extreme weather events and natural disasters as well as degradation of eco-systems across the globe that increase vulnerability and exposure. This adds to the potential for social, economic and political instability and conflict in fragile countries.

Climate change and environmental degradation impact on key energy infrastructure, agricultural activities and scarcity of natural resources, making existing social inequalities deeper and exposing vulnerable communities to new types of risks. It therefore has direct implications also for our security and defence.

A transition to climate-neutral economies may have social, economic and political impacts that can amplify conflict-prone situations. We are further assessing the different effects of climate change and environmental degradation on global and regional security, as well as on our armed forces and our CSDP missions and operations.

We will adapt the Union’s security and defence sector and our CSDP engagements and increase energy and resource efficiency, including the environmental footprint of our CSDP missions and operations, in line with the Union’s goal of climate-neutrality by 2050 under the European Green Deal, without reducing operational effectiveness.

To this end, we will enhance the role of green technology and sustainable digitalisation within the armed forces and the defence sector more broadly. We will also mainstream climate change and environmental considerations throughout our civilian and military CSDP missions and operations. We will furthermore strengthen our analysis capacities and early warning systems as to the specific security challenges triggered by climate change and the global transition towards a climate-neutral, resource-efficient and circular economy.

An integrated approach to respond to major crises is essential. The Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the crisis in Afghanistan, underscored the importance of developing an increased ability to rescue and evacuate our citizens when they are at risk beyond our borders. It also highlighted the important role the armed forces can play during complex crises. The military actors in the Member States can mobilise significant assets in support of civilian disaster response actors in areas such as logistical, medical and security support and infrastructure.

Building on existing EU Military Staff structures, such as the EU Movement Planning Cell, and Commission humanitarian and disaster relief mechanisms, we will improve military assistance capabilities as well as effective coordination between civil and military authorities at national and Union level. This will ensure that, as a last resort, military actors stand ready to assist civil authorities during future emergencies and disasters.

The EU Military Staff can also contribute to the coordination of logistical support and assistance to Member States and third countries in a crisis, as well as the implementation of EU instruments such as the European Peace Facility or, upon Member States’ request, the mutual assistance clause, in line with the Treaty on European Union.

The EEAS crisis response mechanisms, our consular support and field security will also be reviewed and strengthened to better assist Member States in their efforts to protect and rescue their citizens abroad, as well as to support our EU Delegations when they need to evacuate personnel. Working with the Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism, we will support civilian disaster relief efforts and we need to ensure that we are able to safely evacuate our citizens from locations hit by natural and man-made disasters. We will also increase coordination with the UN and NATO in this context.


Objectives

We need to best prepare for fast-emerging challenges. We will substantially enhance our resilience. We will bring together our tools to better counter hybrid threats by developing a Hybrid Toolbox. This also means that we will fortify our cyber defence and cybersecurity and strengthen our capacity to dissuade and counter foreign information manipulation and interference. Additionally, we must be able to secure our access to and presence on the high seas, in the air and in outer space.

We aim to further increase our resilience against climate-related risks and human-made and natural disasters while striving towards a climate-neutral EU presence on the ground. We will also strengthen our ability to rescue and evacuate our citizens when they are at risk beyond our borders. All these efforts contribute to strengthening our solidarity and mutual assistance.


Intelligence and secure communication

• By the end of 2022, the Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity will review the EU Threat Analysis in close cooperation with Member States’ intelligence services. Such regular and structured reviews will be conducted at least every 3 years or sooner if the changing strategic and security context calls for it.

• By 2025, we will strengthen our Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity by enhancing the resources and capacities. By 2025, we will also strengthen the EU Satellite Centre to boost our autonomous geo-spatial intelligence capacity.

• To facilitate exchange of information, including classified information, we call upon EU institutions, agencies and bodies to adopt in 2022 additional standards and rules to ensure cybersecurity and security of information.


Hybrid threats, cyber diplomacy and foreign information manipulation and interference

• In 2022, we will develop our EU Hybrid Toolbox that should provide a framework for a coordinated response to hybrid campaigns affecting the EU and its Member States, comprising for instance preventive, cooperative, stability, restrictive and recovery measures and support solidarity and mutual assistance. It will bring together existing and possible new instruments, including the creation of EU Hybrid Rapid Response Teams to support Member States, CSDP missions and operations and partner countries in countering hybrid threats. Based on the EU’s sectoral hybrid resilience baselines and the current security situation, we will identify gaps, needs and steps to address them. The EU Playbook on countering hybrid threats will also be reviewed.

• In 2022, we will further strengthen the Cyber Diplomacy Toolbox, notably by exploring additional response measures.

• In 2022, we will develop a Foreign Information Manipulation and Interference Toolbox. This will strengthen our ability to detect, analyse and respond to the threat, including by imposing costs on perpetrators. We will further enhance the EU’s strategic communication and counter disinformation capabilities. By 2023, we will create an appropriate mechanism to systematically collect data on incidents, facilitated by a dedicated Data Space, to develop a common understanding of foreign information manipulation and interference. By 2024, all CSDP missions and operations will be fully equipped with capabilities and resources to deploy relevant instruments of this toolbox.


Strategic domains

• In 2022, we will further develop the EU's Cyber Defence Policy to protect, detect, defend and deter against cyberattacks. In 2022, a new European Cyber Resilience Act will be proposed and work on the Joint Cyber Unit will continue.

• By the end of 2023, we will adopt an EU Space Strategy for security and defence. We will start with the validation of the Galileo threat response mechanism by the end of 2022 and expand it to other components of the programme. By the end of 2022, we will explore the use of solidarity, mutual assistance and crisis response mechanisms in case of attacks originating from space or threats to space-based assets. To this end, we will also run exercises where solidarity and reaction to space domain events and incidents will be tested, which will further nurture our common strategic approach to space.

• On the basis of an updated EU Maritime Security Strategy, we will by 2025 further develop and strengthen the EU’s maritime security awareness mechanisms such as the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) and Maritime Surveillance (MARSUR) to advance interoperability, facilitate decision-making and support increased operational effectiveness. We will further increase the visibility of our naval presence within and beyond the EU, including through port calls, training and exercises as well as capacity building.

• By the end of 2022, in the air domain, we will take forward a strategic reflection to ensure a free, safe and secure European access to airspace.


Countering terrorism

• We will step up our engagement with strategic partners and in multilateral fora, and further strengthen the network of Counter Terrorism Experts in EU Delegations. By early 2023, we will review EU tools and programmes which contribute to building partners’ capacities against terrorism to increase their effectiveness, including combating terrorism financing.


Promoting disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control

• By 2023, we will reinforce concrete EU actions in support of disarmament, nonproliferation and arms control goals. We will in particular increase our support to partners and help them fully implement sanctions and control procedures. We will continue to call for post-New START agreements.


Climate change, disasters and emergencies

• By the end of 2023, in view of fully implementing the Climate Change and Defence Roadmap, Member States will develop national strategies to prepare the armed forces for climate change. By 2025, all CSDP missions and operations will have an environmental advisor and report on their environmental footprint.

• We will improve the ability of Member States’ armed forces to support civilian authorities in emergency situations both in the planning and conduct phases, while also enhancing coordination between civil and military authorities at all levels. This will include live and joint exercises that cover scenarios pertaining to disaster relief, as well as humanitarian assistance in line with humanitarian principles. By 2023, we will strengthen the EEAS Crisis Response structures, including the Situation Room, to enhance our capacity to respond to complex emergencies, such as evacuation and rescue operation abroad, in close cooperation with the Emergency Response Coordination Centre.