The theme of the 30th International Workshop on Global Security, held in Paris on 24 June 2013, was Peace and Security — The Challenges Ahead. In my address, I focused on the key security challenges facing the European Union. Noting that the international security environment has changed profoundly in recent decades, I stated that active and positive engagement is required by all in order to safeguard the security of individual Member States and that of the Union. I stated that threats like terrorism, uncontrolled migration, cyber attacks and people and drug trafficking are not purely military and, therefore, an overarching or comprehensive approach is required to tackle security issues. I stated that, throughout Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the issues of security challenges and threats facing the Union were discussed, in particular in relation to Maritime Security and Cyber Security. In relation to Maritime Security, I highlighted the importance of building EU-wide consensus and cooperation in relation to security and surveillance in the maritime domain. I noted that the many threats and challenges to the maritime domain have the potential to impact adversely on the security and safety of the Union as a whole and on our citizens and economies. To understand the risks, challenges and vulnerabilities that we face in this regard, it is necessary to have a full picture of what is happening at sea – an integrated maritime picture.
In relation to Cyber Security, I stated that this is an area that imposes existential and internal threats with regard to terrorism, protecting industry and essential utilities and Government information that is of a confidential nature. Cyber security is a complex issue that requires cooperation across all sectors to ensure the safety of our networks and infrastructures. I referred to the dramatic increase in cyber crimes/incidents. I stated that in relation to cyber security, it is appropriate to say that the challenge is how Ministers, policy makers and the private sector can collectively develop a multilateral and multi-dimensional approach to address the challenges that we face in cyber security from a technical, operational and policy perspective.
I welcomed the recent publication of the European Commission’s Cyber Security Strategy entitled “An Open, Safe and Secure Cyber-space”. I noted that it is incumbent upon everyone to fully support implementation of these strategies and agreements. To fail to co-operate in the area of Cyber would be to undermine our collective security and to fail to understand the escalating threat that we face. We are stronger together and safer together. To successfully counter this emerging cyber threat, cooperation between national law enforcement, defence, and technical incident response organisations, within and between Member States, needs to be encouraged. I concluded that it is incumbent on us all to take both personal and collective responsibility to address this crucial and critical issue.
En marge of the Conference, I took the opportunity to meet informally with some of my Ministerial colleagues from other Member States. I also received a briefing from Ireland’s Ambassador to France on Defence and other issues.