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Conference focused on ways to combat hybrid threats

EU2019FIGovernment Communications Department
23.10.2019 16.00
News item
The image shows how hybrid threats target citizens, power plants, information networks, elections and payment systems. Threats can be countered by increasing common awareness, detecting threats early on and responding to them together.
Image: Sera Martikainen, Prime Minister's Office

The ‘Hybrid Threats – Hybrid Response in Modern Security Environment’ conference was hosted in Helsinki on 23 October 2019 by Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE). What makes a threat hybrid? How could we strengthen democracy in order to respond to threats against our political processes? What kind of risk will the new technologies pose to the operation of the critical infrastructure?

The conference gathered more than 150 participants from 38 countries. The event was targeted at senior policy practitioners working with hybrid issues in their national administrations in EU member states and in NATO countries as well as in Eastern Partnership and Southeast European countries.

The conference was opened by Finland’s Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo. She highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach to security and to countering hybrid threats.

“Social cohesion is the best antidote against hybrid threats. We need to act in a structured and coordinated way,” she said.

The keynote speaker was Teija Tiilikainen, who took up her duties as Director of the Hybrid CoE in October 2019.

“The current international system makes a favourable environment for hybrid actions. International rules are challenged, and trust in international institutions has weakened. The conflict of values is spreading to domestic spheres, creating fertile ground for foreign influencing,” Director Tiilikainen observed.

“Our task is to help us all to meet this environment and its challenges for our societies and help our participating states to enhance their resilience and build capacity”, she noted.

The three panel discussions of the day addressed the diverse perceptions on the concept of hybrid threats, the future of democracy and the impact of future technologies on the critical infrastructure in hybrid scenarios.

Countering hybrid threats one of Finland’s Presidency Priorities

Today, states face multi-dimensional hybrid threats that are difficult to detect and define. The objectives of Finland’s Presidency in this field are to improve the EU’s capacities to prevent and respond to hybrid threats, and also to build awareness of them. While the main responsibility for countering hybrid threats rests with the member states, many of them face common threats that can be addressed more effectively through coordinated response at EU level. It is also essential to work with our partners.

The Helsinki-based European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats that works closely with the EU and NATO plays a major role in countering hybrid threats. Its membership is open to all EU member states and NATO countries.