Documents considered by the Committee on 12 January 2011 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

13 Maritime surveillance



COM(10) 584

Commission Communication on a draft roadmap towards establishing the Common Information Sharing Environment for the surveillance of the EU maritime domain

Legal base
Document originated20 October 2010
Deposited in Parliament22 October 2010
Basis of considerationEM of 21 December 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in CouncilNot known
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


13.1 A Commission Communication on the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) and its accompanying action plan[59] were endorsed by the Council in late 2007. A progress report on the IMP, which documented actions taken and indicated future actions,[60] was endorsed by the Council in November 2009. In addition to the progress report the Commission presented a Communication Towards the integration of maritime surveillance: A common information sharing environment for the EU maritime domain, which set out guiding principles towards establishing a "Common Information Sharing Environment" (CISE). The Council, again in November 2009, endorsed the Communication and asked the Commission to present by the end of 2010 a draft "roadmap" for establishing the CISE.[61]

The document

13.2 This Communication is the Commission's proposed roadmap for setting up the CISE. The overall aim is to facilitate integrated maritime surveillance activity in the EU, covering the "sectors" of maritime safety and security, border control, maritime pollution and the marine environment, fisheries control, general law enforcement, defence and the economic interests of the EU. And the intention is integration through the appropriate sharing of information by civil and military authorities, "User Communities", in Member States and EEA member countries, so as to enhance existing awareness of the various maritime sectors by facilitating cross-sectoral and cross-border data sharing.

13.3 The CISE is envisaged as a decentralised information exchange system linking all the User Communities. The Commission says that:

  • it should evolve flexibly, in parallel with existing and planned systems developments in User Communities;
  • the diverse nature of information dealt with by the various User Communities militates against the pursuit of a single, all-embracing technical mechanism for data sharing;
  • instead, the CISE should constitute an interconnection between different data sources that is cost-effective and which increases the overall efficiency of surveillance systems by filling in existing information gaps across Europe and avoiding the duplication of data; and
  • ownership and management of data would remain with the responsible bodies at Member State and EU level in accordance with relevant legal instruments.

13.4 In discussing broad aspects of data handling the Commission describes the common need of all User Communities as being the ability to obtain an enhanced general picture of basic maritime traffic — subject to any necessary safeguards, this data could be shared by all users. It then describes the specific needs of various User Communities, which would complement the basic data, as being:

  • data on illegal activities and security threats, as gathered by bodies such as coast guards, border guards, police and defence forces;
  • fish catch information and positional information to combat illegal fishing; and
  • advanced electronic data on movement of goods, to enable pre-assessment of the safety and security of goods.

The Commission notes that such information can be highly sensitive and is currently only exchanged for strictly defined purposes, often laid out in international agreements. It says that the CISE would acknowledge such procedures by espousing the principle that data sharing should take place on "a need-to-know and responsibility-to-share basis".

13.5 Work towards the roadmap would involve what the Commission terms four basic "principles" of approach, supported by various actions ("steps"), some of which are subdivided into subsidiary stages. The four principles are:

  • an approach linking all User Communities, including the defence community;
  • building a technical framework for interoperability — making best use of existing systems, but maintaining dedicated (point to point connections) for certain types of data;
  • civil-military cooperation; and
  • specific legal provisions.

13.6 The Commission suggests that work based on the first and third principles involves two steps. "Step 1", to be achieved by the end of 2010, would be for Member States, EEA countries and the Commission collectively to identify all the relevant User Communities, defined forensically by the functions they perform rather than their identity within national administrations. Seven such functions are identified:

  • maritime safety (including search and rescue), maritime security and prevention of pollution by ships;
  • fisheries control;
  • marine pollution preparedness and response and marine environment;
  • customs;
  • border control;
  • general law enforcement; and
  • defence.

These functions are briefly described further in an annex to the Communication. "Step 2", to be achieved by the end of 2011, would be the mapping of existing data exchanges and an analysis of gaps in information to identify where there might be a demand for information not presently matched by supply. The Commission's Member States' Expert Group on Maritime Surveillance, in conjunction with sectoral working groups, would be responsible for this work and would be assisted by a technical advisory group with appropriate expertise. The European Defence Agency would participate in the civil-military cooperation elements of this work.

13.7 The Commission says that work based on the second principle involves two further steps. "Step 3" would be to agree upon common data classification levels for the purposes of CISE data exchanges. This would involve two stages, the first, to be completed in 2011, would involve a review by the Member States Expert Group on Maritime Surveillance, assisted by the technical advisory group, to determine data sets and classification levels. The second stage, for completion by the end of April 2012, would involve verification of their current practices by the User Communities themselves. "Step 4", for completion in 2012, would be to develop the supporting framework for the CISE by establishing interoperable services and a common technical language to exchange maritime surveillance data in a decentralised but secure way. The emphasis would be on simplicity, minimalising impact for users and ease of future adaptation, although with a rider that there could be circumstances where other specific different techniques may be required.

13.8 Work based on the fourth principle would involve two steps. "Step 5", to be completed in 2012, would be to determine the access rights of the different User Communities to the data held by each other. The technical advisory group would consolidate input from the User Communities and the Commission would present the findings to the Member States' Expert Group for validation. "Step 6", would be for the Experts' Group, in consultation with sectoral experts, to provide a coherent legal framework for data exchange which takes account of best practice and both national and international legal obligations on issues such as confidentiality, intellectual property rights, protection of personal data and ownership of data.

13.9 The Commission says that the six steps of the roadmap will inform an impact assessment it will undertake in preparation for the tabling, in 2013, of a formal proposal to the Council and the European Parliament for the implementation of the CISE. It says explicitly that the roadmap and the eventual proposal for CISE implementation will not impinge upon matters of national competence.

The Government's view

13.10 The Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Mr Mike Penning) says that:

  • the Government recognises that monitoring of the maritime domain requires international cooperation;
  • moreover, even at national level, maritime issues overlap the responsibilities of different government departments and agencies;
  • this has been recognised as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, by creation of the National Maritime Information Centre to act as a focal point for the UK and, in parallel, meeting the CISE requirement for a single maritime data node; and
  • joining departments with a common interest and a common maritime picture will be beneficial and add value to many maritime activities and issues such as safety, security, the environment, trade and energy.

13.11 However, the Minister continues that:

  • while the Government acknowledges the potential benefits of a fully developed CISE, at this stage it has certain observations and possible reservations about some of the details of this initiative;
  • the CISE function that relates to border control and includes the monitoring of compliance with immigration and border control regulations is likely to build on the part of the Schengen aquis in which the UK does not participate;
  • the details of the border control function will form part of the Commission's proposal on the European Border Surveillance System and is expected next year;
  • the Government's present understanding is that the UK would be able to participate in all functions of CISE with the exception of the function that relates to the monitoring of compliance with immigration and border crossing regulations;
  • it is not absolutely clear at this stage how this specific maritime initiative fits with other EU initiatives being sponsored by other Directorates-General in the Commission;
  • for example, customs administrations have already built an IT infrastructure to enable all transport carriers to lodge advance electronic data on the movement of goods to satisfy safety and security legislation in the Customs Code;
  • this information is shared with other areas of government and data is also shared with other Member States through an EU domain managed by the Taxation and Customs Union Directorate-General; and
  • the Government will be concerned to ensure that the CISE will not duplicate other EU information sharing infrastructures that are already operational or in development.

13.12 Turning to the financial implications of the Commission Communication the Minister says that:

  • no definite costs have been outlined so far, but the Commission is committed to producing an impact assessment before presenting a formal proposal for the establishment of CISE;
  • the UK, along with other Member States and EEA countries, will have the opportunity to shape the discussion at that point;
  • the Commission does estimate that the costs envisaged in the preparatory work towards the roadmap would amount to between €1.5 million (£1.26 million) and €5 million (£4.19 million) for the period 2011-2013;
  • this forms part of the total amount of new funding which the Commission seeks for a range of work to support the Integrated Maritime Policy, as put forward in a draft Regulation in September 2010;[62]
  • also relevant is the Commission's proposal to amend Regulation 1406/2002 to clarify the existing tasks and roles of the European Maritime Safety Agency and to extend those tasks to new areas under development in the EU or at the wider international level;[63] and
  • the Government is not necessarily opposed to the work envisaged by the draft roadmap, but it will resist any increase in budgetary provision and argue instead that work should be carried out within existing resources.


13.13 The results of the process the Commission describes in this Communication will be important. We note the Government's prudent reservations about the details of proposal for a Common Information Sharing Environment, particularly in relation to duplicated activity and finance. Nevertheless we have no questions to ask at this stage and, whilst drawing it to the attention of the House, clear the document.

59   (29068) 14631/07 + ADDs 1-5: see HC 16-viii (2007-08), chapter 2 (16 January 2008) and HC Deb, 3 June 2008, cols 713-735. Back

60   (31027) 14363/09 + ADD 1: see HC 5-i (2009-10), chapter 13 (19 November 2009). Back

61   (31028) 14365/09 + ADD 1: see HC 5-x (2009-10), chapter 12 (9 February 2010). Back

62   (32002) 14284/10 + ADD 1: see HC 428-viii (2010-11), chapter 4 (17 November 2010). Back

63   (32150) 15717/10 + ADDs 1-2: see HC 428-xi (2010-11), chapter 10 (15 December 2010). Back

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