Europe has 70 000 km of coastline along two oceans and four seas. The European Union's (EU)
maritime regions account for some 40% of its GDP and population. Europe's well-being, economic growth and
security are therefore inextricably linked with the maritime domain. Member States carry out a wide variety
of security and control related activities int the maritime domain, such as border control, maritime safety
and security operations fisheries, customs and maritime pollution control, general law enforcement activities
and military activities. To be able to carry out such activities, the relevant authorities need a wide variety
of information such as ship positions and routes, cargo and crew data, intelligence, imaging, events at sea,
positions and capacities of surveillance assets, registries, charts and maps and meteo-oceanographic data.
As no authority owns the full picture of what is happening at sea, collaboration is needed between these authorities at national level as well as EU level to make sure that information collected by one authority and useful for another authority can effectively be shared, hence contributing to the cost-effectiveness of maritime surveillance operations at sea.
To facilitate collaboration and coordination across sectors and borders and to increase effectiveness of operations at a larger scale, efforts and initiatives such as the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) are in place. On one hand, the incorporation of more advanced, diverse and heterogeneous assets increases the capacity and capabilities for more accurate surveillance and increased situational awareness. However, on the other hand, it also increases the difficulties and challenges for operating such a complex and large-scale “system of systems” based on heterogeneous data from various authorities.
Allowing and facilitating all this flow of data and information is not sufficient in itself: it is also needed to make sense of it. Once different types of data from different kinds of sources are ingested and integrated, they need to be filtered, analyzed to allow for early detection and identification of events, to provide actionable insights, to support decision making, and to facilitate the planning and coordination of responses. Based on the types of data and the requirements of different tasks, the system should support analysis both in real-time (e.g. to detect and classify threats) and offline (e.g. to find patterns and extract knowledge from historical data).
There are many different initiatives and systems in place or under development
for the information sharing at national and EU level. Many of these are focusing on sectorial
information exchange between relevant authorities, for example FLUX within the field of
fisheries, but there are also systems in place that envisage cross-sectorial information exchange.
At EU level, a number of information exchange systems have been introduced through Union legislation, which are now being managed by EU Regulatory Agencies. These systems are generally intended to support the control activities of national authorities carrying out coastguard functions by providing them with intelligence and integrated services. EU Agencies are also required by Union law to co-operate to carry out these tasks in order to provide the best possible services and to avoid duplication. The most recent example is the joint mandate of the European Maritime Safety Agency(EMSA), European Fisheries Control Agency(EFCA) and the European Boarder and Coast Guard Agency(FRONTEX) to provide integrated services under the European border and Coastguard package.
At national level, many authorities have improved their own systems or developed solutions to gather additional information in order to enhance the knowledge of their maritime areas of responsibility. The purpose or intent of such developments is in most cases to combine data available in their systems either with the integrated services provided by EU Agencies or with information received from other national authorities.
Initiatives to develop information exchange between maritime surveillance authorities at EU and national level have therefore already been ongoing for some time, but the range of information shared across sectors and borders is still limited mainly due to the lack of technical interoperability and the legal barriers(particularly at national level).
Maritime CISE, the Common Information Sharing Environment for the EU maritime
domain, is a voluntary collaborative process in the European Union seeking to further
enhance and promote relevant information sharing between authorities involved in
maritime surveillance. It is not replacing or duplicating but building on existing
information exchange and sharing systems and platforms referred to in section 1.4. Its
ultimate aim is to promote innovation and development of solutions ensuring the
interoperability of existing systems and platforms. It seeks therefore to prevent as much
as possible situations when relevant information either does not reach the operators who
need it, or reaches them with an inappropriate delay in time and requires (manual) effort
to gather it from partners.
The CISE process started in 2008 and has since then been supported by numerous studies and projects, such as BlueMassMed, MARSUNO and the CoopP. These projects identified and promoted operational and technical needs for CISE, estimated its potential economic benefits, proposed technical interoperability solutions and types of information to be exchanged between partners. They also elaborated a set of operational scenarios ('use cases') showing the direct link between operational situations and information exchange needs.
The Commission and the Member States have reviewed the progress in the development of CISE through four Commission Communications with accompanying Council Conclusions. In 2013-2014, the Commission conducted an impact assessment followed by a Communication assessing the overall progress and identified areas for further work. Since 2014, CISE forms part of the European Maritime Security Strategy Action Plan (EUMSS-AP). Both the 2014 Communication and the EUMSS Action Plan (action 2.1.4) encourage the development of interoperability solutions for information exchange at national level.
Moreover, the motivation for enhanced information exchange, promoted by CISE, is also supported by important political declarations such as the G7 summits held in Germany- 2015 and Japan-2016 and by the related G7 Foreign Ministers' statements on maritime security. The latter explicitly welcomed the EUMSS and CISE.
The technical interoperability solutions (i.e. CISE data and service model) are currently being tested by the EUCISE2020 FP7 project, involving 16 EEA States and including over 30 civil and military authorities. One of the objectives of this project is to examine and further develop CISE concepts in general by using real surveillance systems and data from the national authorities. The project will deliver its final results in 2018. It is expected that the EUCISE2020 network will be maintained after the project ends to further support the implementation process.
The project was funded by the European Commission in the framework of the 2016-2017 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund work program.