Today, the European Commission and the High Representative adopted a Joint Communication on an enhanced EU Maritime Security Strategy to ensure a peaceful use of the seas and safeguard the maritime domain against new threats. They have also adopted an updated Action Plan through which the Strategy will be implemented.
Maritime security is vital to the European Union and its Member States. Together, the EU’s Member States form the largest combined exclusive economic zone in the world. The EU economy depends greatly on a safe and secure ocean. Over 80% of global trade is seaborne and about two-thirds of the world’s oil and gas is either extracted at sea or transported by sea. Up to 99% of global data flows are transmitted through undersea cables. The global maritime domain must be secure to unlock the full potential of the oceans and the sustainable blue economy. The EU intends to reinforce the wide range of tools it has at its disposal to promote maritime security, both civilian and military.
Adapting to new threats
Security threats and challenges have multiplied since the adoption of the EU Maritime Security Strategy in 2014, requiring new and enhanced action. Long-standing illicit activities, such as piracy, armed robbery at sea, smuggling of migrants and trafficking of human beings, arms and narcotics, as well as terrorism remain critical challenges. But new and evolving threats must also be dealt with increasing geopolitical competition, climate change and degradation of the marine environment and hybrid and cyber-attacks.
This is an opportunity to drive forward sustainable solutions to the multiple maritime security issues the EU and the international community face. It is also an opportunity to enhance the EU’s role and credibility in the international arena. Recent geopolitical developments, such as Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, are a forceful reminder that the EU needs to enhance its security and step up its capacity to act not only on its own territory and its own waters, but also in its neighbourhood and beyond.