Documents considered by the Committee on 28 February 2018 Contents

11European Security and Defence College: cyber-security

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny

Document details

Council Decision amending Decision 2016/2382/CFSP, establishing a European Security and Defence College

Legal base

Articles 28(1), 42(4) and 43(2) TEU; unanimity


Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Document Number


Summary and Committee’s conclusions

11.1The European Security and Defence College (ESDC) was established in 2005 to coordinate and provide strategic level training to prepare Member States for participation in specific EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations, and to disseminate best practice in the fields covered by the EU’s foreign and defence policy.217

11.2The ESDC is organised as a network of EU Member State’s military training institutions, with the UK represented by the Defence Academy in Shrivenham.218 As such, the College’s activity is directed by the EU Member States (whose representatives make up its Steering Committee), with the support of a Secretariat provided by the European External Action Service.

11.3The courses provided by the College are targeted at both military and civilian personnel, mirroring the military and civilian nature of CSDP operations and missions, and are primarily delivered by Member States’ training institutions. They are open to third countries, meaning UK participation in courses provided by the College would remain possible after Brexit. However, the network of institutions that comprise the ESDC does not have members from non-EU countries.

11.4In September 2017, the European Commission presented a new Cybersecurity Strategy.219 The EU Military Committee220 and the European Defence Agency subsequently proposed the creation of a Cyber Defence Training platform under the ESDC, which the Foreign Affairs Council endorsed on 13 November.221 A draft Council Decision to that effect was submitted for scrutiny by the Minister for Europe (Sir Alan Duncan) in February 2018.222 According to the Minister, the ESDC’s proposed “Cyber Education, Training, Evaluation and Exercise” (ETEE) platform will “address cyber training needs among civilian and military personnel as identified by the EU Military and Civilian Training Groups”, including the development of curricula and coordination of Member States’ training programmes in this field.

11.5The proposal includes an increase in the College’s budget for 2018, to allow it to engage three new members of staff to provide the envisaged cybersecurity training (in addition to the contributions of national secondees, who will continue to be paid by their home institution). The new budget for the ECSD for the remainder of the year would be set at €1,315,000 (£1,158,000),223 an increase of €390,000 (£344,000), to account for the additional expenditure on the ETEE platform.224 There will be no additional costs for the UK as a result of the Council Decision, as the ESDC is funded from the EU’s Common Foreign and Security budget and not through the Athena mechanism.225

11.6The Minister has welcomed the proposal, as cybersecurity is a UK priority. The Minister says the proposed Council Decision “ensures that the platform’s activities are fully complementary to activities undertaken by NATO, including through the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn”. The intention is for the Foreign Affairs Council to adopt the proposal at by April 2018 at the latest.

11.7We thank the Minister for his Explanatory Memorandum on the proposed expansion of the European Security and Defence College. In view of the continuing uncertainty about the scope and depth of the UK’s future partnership on defence matters with the EU after Brexit, we consider the proposed Council Decision to be of political importance. Accordingly, we draw it to the attention of the House.

Full details of the documents

Council Decision amending Decision 2016/2382/CFSP, establishing a European Security and Defence College: (39489),—.

Previous Committee Reports


217 The current legal basis for the ESDC is Council Decision 2016/2382.

219 Document 39050,12211/17. It was discussed by the Committee on 6 December 2017 and retained under scrutiny.

220 The European Union Military Committee (EUMC) is the highest military body set up within the Council. It is composed of the Chiefs of Defence (CHODs) of the Member States, who are regularly represented by their permanent Military Representatives in Brussels (MilReps). The EUMC provides the Political and Security Committee (PSC) with advice and recommendations on all military matters within the EU.

222 Explanatory Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (8 February 2018).

223 €1 = £0.88723 or £1 = €1.12710 as at 29 December.

224 The Minister added that the ESDC budget “represents only 0.1% of the total CFSP budget. We judge that this figure is too low to represent a real opportunity cost in terms of overall CFSP budget”.

225 The Athena mechanism funds the common costs of the EU’s military operations under the Common Security and Defence Policy, as the Treaties prohibit these costs from being met by the general EU budget.

5 March 2018