In addition to the four keynote speeches delivered by Federica Mogherini (Head of the EDA), Julian King (EU Commissioner for the Security Union), Kersti Kaljulaid (President of Estonia) and Mikko Hypponen (Chief Research Officer, F-Secure), participants at this year’s EDA Annual Conference witnessed two lively and interactive panel debates on cyber as a ‘persistent strategic challenge’ and enhanced cooperation in Europe and beyond, and on how to tackle growing cyber threats.
Panel 1: Cyber - A persistent strategic challenge
High-level panellists in the first roundtable were General Riho Terras (Commander of Estonia’s Defence Forces), Dirk Hoke (Airbus Defence and Space CEO), Lieutenant General Ludwig Leinhos (Commander of the German Cyber and Information Space Command), Kevin Scheid (NATO NCIA General Manager), Neil Cassidy (Rolls Royce VP Director Cyber Security, Risk & Compliance) and Fabrice Clement (Proximus Director Security Governance & Investigations).
The panel discussed a number of key questions such as ‘How far do EU Member States share cyber-threat assessments?’, ‘How are national governments tailoring their responses and increasing their preparedness levels?’, or ‘How should European institutions support Member States in their efforts to navigate the myriad initiatives linked to cybersecurity and cyber defence?’.
Better information sharing and enhanced cyber defence cooperation are indispensable, not only between EU member States but also between the EU and NAT. Speakers also pointed to the need to avoid duplication of efforts and to increase cooperation with industry for delivery of the required technological solutions to counter growing cyber threats. The importance of cyber education and training was highlighted, as was the serious problem of finding and recruiting skilled cyber experts in Europe today, set to worsen in the future.
Panel 2: European solutions to global problems
The afternoon panel discussion saw high-profile speakers discuss potential technological solutions, how industry is adapting to provide such technologies, and what the EU and NATO can do to support this process. Questions raised ranged from ‘How should Member States’ defence procurement models adapt to the fact that most of the available cyber defence technology today is dual-use?’, ‘How far are civilians and the military cooperating and exchanging best practises to avoid duplication and promote excellence?’ or ‘Where should the EDA focus its efforts to support EU Member States when it comes to cyber?’.
The four high-level panellists were: Annegret Bendiek (Senior Associate Europe Research at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, SWP), Jakub Boratynski, (Head of Unit for Cybersecurity and Digital Privacy, DG Connect, European Commission), Rogier Holla (Deputy Head of the EU Computer Emergency Response Team, CERT-EU), Merle Maigre (NATO CCD COE Director) and George Sharkov (the National Cybersecurity Coordinator & Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria).
The speakers touched on the importance of research and innovation in the civilian and military sides of cyber, on international norms in cyber warfare, the Tallinn Manual, and failed UN attempts to regulate and on the protection of critical infrastructure. All agreed on the urgent need to update existing SCADA systems to adapt to the current threat landscape.