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Supporting European Civilian External Actions

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CIVILEX (Supporting European Civilian External Actions)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2017-04-30

The challenge addressed by the CIVILEX project is the improvement of the effectiveness of EU external action through the rational and coherent use and exchange of information in CSDP civilian missions. There is not a reference information system fostered by the EEAS or widely adopted by the missions, or common standard procedures applied and followed by the staff working in CSDP civilian missions either in Brussels headquarters or the field. The current reality of the information management landscape is a fragmented system composed of a set of tools, commercial or developed ad-hoc, upon a set of diverse technologies. These tools or ICT systems do help personnel to carry out their daily tasks but lack interoperability and coherence and are not easily transferred from one mission to another. All in all, it entails inefficacies both functional and economic since systems are developed once and again starting from scratch with its associated costs and don’t fully fulfill the information needs, specifically the need to exchange information with third parties involved in civilian missions at Brussels or local level.
The overall objective of the project is to provide a set of recommendations to develop a coherent and interoperable Situational Awareness, Information Exchange and Operation Control Platform (OCP), as well as outline a roadmap for its implementation. The OCP will improve the efficiency of CSDP civilian missions.

The specific project objetives are to:
1. Create understanding and commitment among key OCP users on the institutional changes needed to streamline information management arrangements within CSDP missions.
2. Analyse the existing information management, exchange and operation control systems; identify the technical, security and usability requirements for the formulation of appropriate technical solutions.
3. Review state-of-the-art technologies and applications for effective information exchange and identify options for future technical interoperability formats, architecture and information exchange solutions.
4. Provide recommendations for setting the research and procurement agenda for acquisition and implementation of the future OCP, taking into account the technical options and institutional dimensions.
The main project results are:

• A comprehensive analysis of the institutional and operational aspects of situational awareness, information exchange and operational control in the context of EU CSDP civilian missions highlighting the political and institutional background, both in Brussels and in the field, to be considered in the development and deployment of the future OCP.

• A set of functional and non-functional requirements and recommendations to build up the OCP derived from the analysis of the CSDP missions domain and following the general project approach, characterised by a constant effort to integrate the institutional, working processes and technical perspectives. The elaboration of these requirements has been based on the descriptions from users on the current way of working in the CSDP context.

• Three technical options for an OCP workplace, which fit into a growth model. These options have been described as “Information sharing and collaborative information management”, “Information integration” and “Decision and analysis support”. The design of these technical options was influenced by the operational requirements compiled along the project, the current ICT landscape in civilian missions, the state of the art research and the findings from the UN visit. This visit provided a comprehensive set of lessons learned in terms of institutional and organizational aspects in the context of peace and humanitarian operations and also of IT solutions.

• A concept for an OCP development roadmap structured around three major waypoints: 1) ‘focus on efficiency’, where most current inefficiencies in information sharing have been removed , 2) ‘step change’ where the mission organisation takes a major step towards with new procedures, new roles and new collaboration functions; and 3) ‘transformation’ in which the structures and decisions at the technological, organisational and institutional level are all designed to allow missions to work in a self-organising, network-centric manner.

• A community of stakeholders forged through many dissemination consultation and validation activities. These activities included more than 100 hundred interviews in Brussels (to European Commission, EDA , GSC and EEAS staff) and to people working in the field (EULEX Kosovo, EUCAP Sahel Mali, EUCAP Sahel Niger, EUNAVFOR MED – operation Sophia , EUCAP Nestor and EUNAVFOR Somalia – operation Atalanta), two workshops and several meetings witht a reduced group of End-users. All these activities have allowed us to raise awareness about the project objectives and outcomes among the personnel involved in the planning and implementation of CSDP civilian missions

The main Project conclusions and recomendations are gathered in a policy brief document. Current problems related to information exchange don’t solely stem from technical limitations but most important from institutional and organizational aspects that can’t be overcome merely by improved technology. The OCP innitiative should be grounded on a clearly defined strategy, specific operational objectives and defined performance ambitions.
The project approach to the information exchange research in the civilian CSDP missions domain is innovative. The CIVILEX consortium understands that organizational and institutional barriers to information sharing must be tackled in order to get a common understanding of crisis management. Furthermore a new information culture fostering transparent information sharing among all the stakeholders in the EU's Brussels headquarters and in the field should be fostered. As results of this approach the future OCP developed following the project recommendations, will bring added value to CSDP missions and operations.
The overall expected impact of the project is that decision-makers at all levels will be prepared to take decisions towards the implementation of changes in the organisation and technical infrastructure needed to solve the obstacles currently faced in the frame of the CSDP mission information exchange.
On the other hand introducing in the CSDP setting future-oriented technology concepts, specific interoperability standards and architectures widely used in the industry will allow enhanced efficiency while saving scarce CSDP resources.

The wider societal implications and benefits provided by the project are aligned with the recently published EU Global strategy and the consequent implementation plan. One of the EU priorities underlined in the strategy is the security of the European citizens which more and more entails addressing challenges with both an internal and external dimension: “our security at home depends on peace beyond our borders”. One of the action lines adopted to achieve that goal, the security beyond our borders, is based on building partners’ capacities to deliver security within the rule of law. This statement makes part of the mandate of many CSDP civilian missions. By contributing somehow to the effective implementation of CSDP missions, we contribute to the security of the EU citizens as well as to that of our east and south neighbours.
Civilex interviews the Deputy Secretary General CSDP and crisis response)
CIVILEX workshop