European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats opens in Helsinki

When the EU and NATO agreed to enhance their cooperation at the Warsaw Summit in 2016, countering hybrid threats was identified as one of the most prominent fields of cooperation.

On 1 September, the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE) was opened in Helsinki, Finland. The Centre is intended to serve as a hub of expertise supporting the participating countries’ individual and collective efforts to enhance their civil-military capabilities, resilience, and preparedness to counter hybrid threats with a special focus on European security.

The Centre is expected to serve as a platform for cooperation between the EU and NATO in evaluating societies’ vulnerabilities and enhancing resilience,” says Director Matti Saarelainen. Currently, the 12 participating countries to the Centre are Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

While not signatories themselves, NATO and the EU will participate actively in the Centre’s activities. Lieutenant General Shepro, Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, acknowledged the importance of the Centre during a visit to Finland, “countering hybrid threats is a priority for NATO, as they blur the line between war and peace and combine multiple capabilities and tactics”.

The Centre will launch its activities at a high-level seminar in Helsinki today. The seminar brings together representatives of the 12 participating countries, the EU and NATO. Sir Julian King, EU Commissioner for the Security Union, and Mr Arndt Freytag von Loringhoven, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence and Security, will participate in the high-level seminar.

The Centre, which will open officially on 2 October, has three key roles, according to Director Matti Saarelainen: “First of all, the Centre is a centre of excellence which promotes the countering of hybrid threats at strategic level through research and training, for example. Secondly, the Centre aims to create multinational networks of experts in comprehensive security. These networks can, for instance, relate to situation awareness activities. Thirdly, the Centre serves as a platform for cooperation between the EU and NATO in evaluating societies’ vulnerabilities and enhancing resilience”.

As with other entities already contributing to NATO’s efforts to counter hybrid threats, a working relationship is likely to be developed with the Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence in Riga, Latvia, and the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia.

Further reading on Hybrid Threats:

Taras Kuzio, Why Vladimir Putin is Angry with the West Understanding the Drivers of Russia’s Information, Cyber and Hybrid War, German Federal Academy for Security Policy,

Security Policy Working Paper, No. 7/2017

Elizabeth Oren (2016) A Dilemma of Principles: The Challenges of Hybrid Warfare from a NATO Perspective, Special Operations Journal, 2:1, 58-69