Comprehensive approach

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FOCUS five Big Themes

Comprehensiveness basically means to address the range of threats and challenges by the full menu of instruments in order to contribute to overall stability and security. On the implementation level though, there is no single common understanding on the essentials of a comprehensive approach. There is however broad agreement that in the international realm, it implies the pursuit of an approach aimed at integrating the political, security, development, rule of law, human rights, and humanitarian dimensions of missions and operations. Civil-military interaction plays an important role here, as do civil protection, crisis management, and appropriate allocation of financial and other resources.

A comprehensive approach aims at overarching solutions to problems, with broad effects based on complementarity of actors, while considering all available options and capabilities as well as the normative end-state of the security of society as a whole. The EU's comprehensive approach is not confined to international roles, such a civil-military interaction in crisis management. It also entails the tackling of cross-cutting issues in home affairs, including EU civil protection.

Comprehensive approach vs. other approaches#

It is useful to distinguish the concept of the comprehensive approach from some other approaches:

  • An integrated approach focuses on cross-sector solutions based on platforms, such as providing security of both persons and goods in public transport by unified models, strategies, and technologies; or such as comprising different sectors of the crisis management cycle. In practice, there are various concepts that differ in their focus on managing different threats, such as economic, natural, man-made, etc.
  • A holistic approach builds on multifunction, such as linking security and environmental protection, security and (resource) efficiency, etc. in one single package of measures and solutions.
  • An ''all-hazard approach'' has its emphasis on cross-sector, cross-risk analyses, and measures.

Internal-external security continuum#

Each EU Member State is an open system, influenced by internal and external threats and hazards. In the context of the comprehensive approach, the concept of internal security cannot exist without an external dimension, since internal security increasingly depends on external security. Reflecting the cross-border and cross-sector nature of current threats and challenges as well as the complexity of instruments and objectives along the internal-external continuum, a comprehensive approach aims at broad trade-offs involving societal goals in order to increase the security of the EU and its citizenry as a whole. International cooperation, both bilaterally and multilaterally, will remain essential for the EU and its Member States to guarantee security, protect the rights of the citizens, and to promote security abroad, including human security.

Challenges in the coming decades will continue to be fraught with uncertainty, involving state and non-state actors combining conventional and asymmetric methods. They will go beyond traditional domains to encompass space and cyberspace, and strongly influence the conceptual and operational ingredients of the comprehensive approach. Shaping the opinion of a network-enabled audience will be just as important as targeting the threat. Problems related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction will persist. Cyber threats will also proliferate, with possible capabilities to organize a high-consequence attack against European critical infrastructures. Likewise, non-state and hybrid actors will continue to seek capabilities to stage major terrorist attacks on the territories of EU Member States.

In the light of this, while internal security policies are increasingly involved, the EU’s main practical reference to a comprehensive approach continues to be the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), which is an integral part of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Operationally, the EU’s understanding of a comprehensive approach so far has mostly centred on bringing together all available instruments to increase the Union’s global role and to manage interdependencies between different sectors, such as: coherence of approaches of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission; CSDP and Justice and Home Affairs (JHA); harmonized approaches to security and development, security and human rights, etc. This includes coordinating actions of various stakeholders from nations and international organizations in different domains: political, institutional, structural, economic, social, etc. It also includes increasing the coherence and inter-body relations between the internal and external dimensions of security, with a focus on close cooperation between CSDP and JHA.

Despite its international origin and common reference, the comprehensive approach plays an increasing role in the context of the EU Internal Security Strategy (ISS). This includes meeting the need for EU cooperation, based on the methodology of the “EU Harmony Policy Circle” that translates threat assessments and political priorities into action plans. Some of those priorities are: weaken the capacity of organized crime groups active or based in West Africa to traffic cocaine and heroin to and within the EU; mitigate the role of the Western Balkans, as a key transit and storage zone for illicit commodities destined for the EU; and weaken the capacity of organized crime groups to facilitate illegal immigration to the EU.

Future tracks for security research#

Further FOCUS work in this theme will in particular explore possible related future tracks of security research such as the following: EU cohesion, decision-making and, more generally, governance; dependency on information and communication technology, and technology in general (address cascading breakdown of systems); new methodologies for collecting and integrating data from various different sources; decision-making tools based on joined-up situation analyses, including their use to secure public acceptance and support; advancement and integration of approaches to foresight, with special consideration of disruptors from normative (desired) end-states. Future tracks of security research could also lay emphasis on the implementation perspective, taking into account indicators for measuring the effectiveness of the comprehensive approach. In terms of EU international roles, indicators for a net assessment of the effects of the comprehensive approach could include “societal indicators” such as election turnout, crime rates, arms control level, etc.

Top-3 challenges as identified in FOCUS horizon scanning#

  • Integrated situational picture/information sharing
  • Intelligence and comprehensive threat anticipation
  • Building trust

Recommendations for "Security Research 2035" in support of the comprehensive approach#

  • Future EU security research should broadly reflect the evolving common European security agenda in order to timely address emerging prior gaps and needs for further implementation of security strategies.
  • Future EU security research should meet the challenge to develop a new concept of (civil) security from research, rather than deriving it from events, technologies, or existing policies.
  • Future EU security research should clearly address the risk of creating an uneven distribution of security in society, for example by technologies that only add to the security of the wealthy, or by security solutions that even may harm certain parts of society.
  • Also in this regard, future EU security research should place emphasis on and help promote the principle of societal/citizen ownership (seeing citizens as the final/ultimate end-users). This will be of increased importance for the ethical acceptability as well as the factual public acceptance of its results.
  • Future EU security research should contribute to developing and implementing norms and standards for civil protection that support the EU as a collective civil protection actor and a related concept of security.
  • Future EU security research should focus still more strongly on public perceptions and on citizen security cultures, including new social media research to gain indicators for those concepts.
  • Future EU security research should among other things particularly address social media communications technologies and contribute to better connecting to public/civil society audiences and better enabling policymakers to communicate to the latter on civil emergency.

Full problem space report#

Deliverable 3.1

Related scenarios#

Reference scenario#

Scenarios for "EU 2035" roles and futuristic missions #

Scenarios for "Security Research 2035"#

Expected key technologies in the scenario space of this Big Theme#

  • Chemical and biological sensors; X-ray technology
  • Imaging technologies
  • Data fusion and decision support software
  • Mobile broadband communication – developed possibilities to exchange information over long-distance in real time, with high quality and reliability
  • Technology platforms and convertible technologies
  • Multi-use platforms (civil, security, military, etc.)
  • IT key platform technology
  • Vulnerability and response capabilities simulation

Requirements for IT-based knowledge management in the scenario space#

  • Providing meta-technology to integrate and comprehensively use data and information from different sources to allow for more informed and better decisions
  • New technologies for collecting and integrating data from various different sources
  • Syllabi of mechanisms of external threats on EU critical infrastructure, mainly related to information and communication technology (ICT) and cyber attacks
  • Collection of definition of future operational requirements and technology development
  • Platform for information interoperability
  • Platform technology for structured information exchange, e.g. inter-agency

Common analytical framework matrix (CAFM)#

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