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A meeting of the European Union’s Defence Council, which took place in Luxembourg on April 19th, looked at the subject of hybrid terrorism threats and how the EU’s resilience to such threats can be improved.

Ministers at the meeting based their discussions on the joint framework on hybrid threats which was recently presented by the European Commission and High Representative Federica Mogherini.

Hybrid threats refer to ‘a mixture of activities often combining conventional and unconventional methods that can be used in a coordinated manner by state and non-state actors while remaining below the threshold of formally declared warfare. The objective is not only to cause direct damage and exploit vulnerabilities, but also to destabilise societies and create ambiguity to hinder decision-making.’

The joint framework on hybrid threats was adopted on April 6th 2016 by the European Commission and the High Representative. It aims to increase the resilience of the EU, its Member States and partner countries while increasing cooperation with NATO on countering such threats.

The joint framework proposes 22 operational actions aimed at:

  • Raising awareness by establishing dedicated mechanisms for the exchange of information between Member States and by coordinating EU actions to deliver strategic communication;
  • Building resilience by addressing potential strategic and critical sectors such as cybersecurity, critical infrastructures (energy, transport, space), protection of the financial system, protection of public health, and supporting efforts to counter violent extremism and radicalisation;
  • Preventing, responding to crises and recovering by defining effective procedures to follow, but also by examining the applicability and practical implications of the Solidarity Clause (Article 222 TFEU) and the mutual defence clause (Art. 42(7) TEU), in case a wide-ranging and serious hybrid attack occurs;
  • Stepping up the cooperation between the EU and NATO as well as other partner organizations, in a joint effort to counter hybrid threats, while respecting the principles of inclusiveness and autonomy of each organisation's decision making process.

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