On Wednesday, 7 June 2023, the Network of Directors-General of European Crisis Centres gathered for the 8th time in Stockholm this time, as part of the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The meeting was organised by the Belgian National Crisis Centre in cooperation with the National Security Council of the Prime Minister´s Office of Sweden.
It is the first time a meeting of the Network has not been organised in Belgium or by videoconference. This novelty once again demonstrates the will of many European Union Member States to keep the Network alive, to become more integrated within the structures of the Council of the EU, and to continue to gather to exchange views on crisis management and European cooperation within the field.
« This meeting in Stockholm, organized for the first time in the country holding the presidency of the Council of the EU, exemplifies quite well the will to further link our Network with the work done in the Council, and the importance of involving the national crisis management authorities in the discussions.” Bart Raeymaekers, Directeur Général Centre de crise National.
22 EU Member States, Norway and Iceland, as well as European institutions and organisations, convened in Stockholm, in the presence of Johan Stuart, State Secretary to the Prime Minister of Sweden.
A number of themes were addressed during the meeting, including a discussion on hybrid threats (The term “hybrid threat” refers to an action conducted by state or non-state actors, whose goal is to undermine or harm a target by combining overt and covert military and non-military means.), with the participation of experts such as the European Centre of Excellence for Combating Hybrid Threats and the newly founded Swedish Psychological Defence Agency.
“We need to understand hybrid threats in a holistic way, but also to learn how to work with various instruments to respond to them efficiently” Mr. Carl Fredrik Wettermark, Deputy Director, Secretariat for Intelligence Coordination, The National Security Council of the Prime Minister´s Office of Sweden.
The Network simultaneously emphasised the importance of cross-border cooperation, with a panel discussion highlighting the various existing regional initiatives in Europe. While the Benelux cooperation (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg) is well known and highly formalised, other groups of countries also cooperate on crisis management, albeit on a more informal basis, such as the Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland), the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and the Visegrád cooperation (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia). This presentation provided an opportunity to discover good practices, highlight success stories, and reflect together on the added value of cross-border cooperation in crisis management.
Another panel discussion took place on future risks. Several national, European (Council and Commission), and even international actors, including the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) were able to present and discuss their specific approaches to anticipating future risks.
In addition, the meeting was an opportunity for the Swedish presidency to look back at the done within the Council of the EU on crisis management during their presidency.
To conclude the day, the Department of National Security of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Spain announced their intention to jointly organise the next meeting of the Network in Spain, as part of their presidency of the Council starting on 23 July.
The Network of Directors-General of European Crisis Centres was established in 2018 on the initiative of the Belgian National Crisis Centre and is supported by the Benelux General Secretariat. It aims to develop coordination between national crisis management authorities, be mutually informed about the challenges faced by different crisis centres, share existing expertise and experiences while supporting each other in implementing common solutions at the national level.