On the 3rd and 4th December, the European External Action Service organised a High-level Conference entitled “Towards a global network of crisis rooms”. This conference focused on Crisis Coordination Centres or Crisis Rooms - be they national, regional or global - and their interaction in major multi-sector crises.
Major emergencies or crises, both inside and outside the EU, are of such wide-ranging impact and political significance, that they require timely policy coordination and response. Such complex crises may have inter alia political, security, military, consular, humanitarian, civil protection, energy, transport or public health dimensions.
Over the last two years the European External Action Service undertook several initiatives aiming to provide support to key regional organisations such as the League of Arab States, Association of Southeast Asian Nations or the African Union in the development of their crisis and emergency response capabilities. New projects are now underway, and it is becoming increasingly clear that cooperation, exchange of trainings, sharing know-how and information, are in the mutual interest of every actor, engaged in peace and political stability, regionally or globally.
During her speech at the conference HR/VP Catherine Ashton stated:
"We have to work for greater convergence of our long-term strategies to make sure that each of the different ways in which we operate across the world plays its part in contributing to long-term security and prosperity in any country or region. Crisis management and humanitarian aid cannot substitute for strategic vision on long-term action. They're very important but too often they can only deal with the symptoms whereas we need to think strategically about how can we deal with the causes. So defining that vision, focusing on crisis prevention, mobilising different strengths and capacities and working in partnership – these are the principles that I would argue are key policies in dealing with conflict and crises. We sometimes call this the comprehensive approach – it means simply, bringing together all of the different policies, instruments - whatever you wish to call them – ways of operating in the world for a common purpose, and the common purpose is to try and ensure that you tackle issues and problems before they become the crisis that can so easily devour resources and create havoc and chaos for so many people across the world. So this approach is built on the conviction that to be effective we need to join forces, pool our assets – those of the External Action Service, the Commission and Member States of course in the European Union. But complemented by the strong partnerships across the world, as I said, represented by so many people here today."
The conference focused on four main areas:
• Enhancing Early Warning and preparation;
• Information sharing and Communication;
• Strengthening Civilian Military Cooperation; and
• Establishing a Global Network of Crisis Rooms.
The conference addressed a number of questions such as:
• What are examples of good practice cooperation between early-warning systems and crisis rooms?
• What are the opportunities associated with the sharing of information between crisis rooms?
• How can crisis rooms contribute to better civil-military information-sharing in complex crises?
• How do inter-connected and strengthened crisis rooms fit within a broader strategy to bolster the global crisis response architecture?
In order to ensure global, comprehensive and timely situational awareness to underpin the EU’s external action, the EU is supported by the EU Situation Room. The EU Situation Room is a permanent stand-by body that provides worldwide monitoring and current situation awareness 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round. It acts as a situation information hub for all relevant stakeholders from the European institutions.