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Sweden wants to strengthen EU cooperation in maritime surveillance

(BRUSSELS2 / In Gothenburg) Concerted maritime surveillance is a necessity both to increase the security of maritime transport, to control immigration and human trafficking and to combat marine pollution. However, each EU country has its own system. Not to mention its own systems. Within each country, skills are, in fact, fragmented: between the police, maritime safety inspectors, fisheries inspectors, customs, etc. And the exchange of information between everyone doesn't really work well.
The Swedes intend to take advantage of the presence of EU defense ministers at an informal meeting in Gothenburg to encourage the Europeans to model themselves on what they have started to do in the Baltic in terms of maritime surveillance with a few countries ( the SUBCAS).

visualization of boats in the area on the computer screen (© NGV)

The SUBCAS system in action in the Baltic. With the help of a demonstration, they showed their system which already connects Sweden, Finland and Denmark. On a computer device, in real time, everyone can have information about ships moving in the sea. Using a database, and AIS reports made by ships, it is possible to visualize on a map, more or less precise, of the movements of the boats in progress. By simply clicking on the small triangle that identifies each boat, you obtain all the data that it has entered, and even photos. “ This is not quite the secure “chat” system set up for the “Atalanta” anti-piracy operation. But it comes down to the same thing. The IT systems of each country are interconnected” explains Commodore Pasi Kristian. Ultimately, all states in the region should join it (Germany, the Baltic countries, Poland). For now, the “ information or notifications received from these countries (or sent) are not done automatically but manually ». The Swedes also hope to convince » the Norwegians who have, for the moment, not really given an answer. As for the Russians, actually, they don't seem too interested, or rather the Swedes don't seem too eager to integrate them into the system.

demonstration and explanation to the members of the delegations of the Subcas device (© NGV)

Not a new device. “It is not a question of recreating a new mechanism or an institution. It's about pooling our resources, sharing our information explains the Swedish Defense Minister, Sten Tolgfors. « The objective is not to have a large European system – complements another participant in the meeting – but rather to have by maritime zone (Mediterranean, Atlantic, etc.) – an analogous system which brings together the coastal countries. There thus seems to be a consensus to move forward on this issue, even if several avenues are possible, as the interests seem numerous.

A suivre. For the military and industrial component, a working group, made up of five retired 3-star admirals, is working under the aegis of the European Defense Agency should produce a report soon (November 23) presenting the first avenues of work . The full report will follow in 2010. For the civil aspect, the European Commission should also publish, on October 14, a communication on maritime surveillance. The issue will come back to the table of Defense and Foreign Affairs Ministers at the “jumbo” Council of Ministers on November 17. But, without doubt, this file will also have to be handled by the Ministers of Transport, Fisheries or the Interior.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).