Like a tsunami leaving its devastating footprint, the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world like lightning and made no difference between rich and poor, leaving blighted hopes and provoking a societal crisis due to economic stagnation. Some countries will cope better than others, but the recovery will be long, painful and costly for all. Upcoming societal movements will be a concern to internal safety and the economy is worrying for international security.The cards of geopolitics are shuffled and there will be both winners and losers. In such a crisis, it is rather comfortable to have humanitarian organisations in the continents themselves and the United Nations, a global actor, with its pandemic roadmap to soften the first damages to people. Besides such fruitful humanitarian strategies, the designing of common security, the creation of structures, and the implementation of common interests are helpful and can be used as a support in crises.
This was true for the European Union in early February this year, when Covid-19 became a worldwide deadly threat. The EU happily acknowledged that its partners in its CBRN Centres of Excellence Initiative started an intense collective discussion on ways to mitigate the spread of the pandemic by identifying necessary means and help. The EU could help by funding some initiatives and counter measures.
In 2003, the European Union designed a security cooperation programme with partners in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and central and southern Asia in the framework of the European Security Strategy, alongside the European Strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. When they did this, nobody could imagine that ten years after its foundation in 2010, this organisation might become so successful in combating a pandemic in 2020. What is behind this EU CBRN Centre of Excellence Initiative? This initiative is designed to strengthen the institutional capacity of non-EU countries to mitigate CBRN risks, which, if not countered, may also constitute a threat to the EU. It provides regional platforms to comprehensively tackle all CBRN risks, from natural disasters and accidental catastrophes to criminal behaviour and terrorist acts, by involving all stakeholders.
Funded by the European Union with a current yearly budget of about 25million, the initiative is coordinated and managed by the European Commission (DG DEVCO) and the European External Action Service (EEAS). Regional cooperation is the key feature of the initiative as risks, by their nature, have a cross-border character. Therefore, regional cooperation best promotes practice and partner countries (eight regions with 61 countries and CBRN national teams) can benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience. This initiative is a telling example of collective action for the common good! The European Union will have to continue playing a leading role as it did over past years with empathy, being open to ideas and proposals coming from the regions and their 61 countries