On Tuesday, 31 October 2023, the Network of Directors General of European Crisis Centres met for the 9th time. The meeting took place in Madrid, in the context of the Spanish 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 Spain.
The organisation of the meeting in Spain is part of a broader, overarching trend whereby the current EU Council Presidency also coordinates the DG Network meeting. This once again demonstrates the will of many EU member states to keep the Network relevant, to reinforce the link of the national crisis management authorities and the EU crisis management structures, and to continue to exchange views on crisis management and European cooperation in this field.
22 EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland, as well as European institutions and organisations, met in Madrid, in the presence of Alberto Herrera Rodríguez, Undersecretary of the Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory.
Several themes were discussed during the day, including a keynote speech on cross-cutting crisis management in the European Union, delivered by the Head of Cabinet of European External Action Service (EEAS), Camilo Villarino.
The Network also highlighted the crucial role of preparedness in crisis management for strengthening resilience. A panel discussion provided an opportunity to highlight different views on this, including the perspective of some agencies and working groups of the Commission, the Council of the EU, as well as national views. This presentation also underlined the need for a comprehensive approach for both governments and the wider society. Participants were provided with valuable insights and information on crisis preparedness and its added value for strengthening resilience.
Furthermore, a presentation on the Crisis Communicators' Network (CCN) was given by its chairperson, Yves Stevens, who is also spokesperson for the Belgian National Crisis Centre. The CCN is an informal network of crisis communicators from member states and EU bodies and the only crisis communication experts' network at EU level.
The meeting was also an opportunity to take stock of the work done within the Council of the EU on crisis management during the Spanish presidency. The Belgian National Crisis Centre, as the upcoming presidency, also discussed its priorities in the field.
To conclude the day, the Directors-General of European Crisis Centres shared their views on the future of the DG Network during a roundtable discussion.
The next meeting of the Network will take place in Brussels, in the context of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU that begins in January.
On the eve the meeting, a small ceremony was organised to honour General Ballesteros, Director-General of the Spanish Department for National Security, who will be retiring shortly. He has been a great supporter of various Belgian initiatives in crisis management at European level. To thank him, the former Director General of the Belgian Crisis Centre, Bart Raeymaekers, accompanied by His Excellency the Ambassador Cockx, presented General Ballesteros with a decoration in the Belgian national orders. General Ballesteros was awarded the rank of Commander in the Order of Leopold.
The Network of Directors General of European Crisis Centres was created 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.