A common information sharing environment for the EU maritime domain

Towards the integration of maritime surveillance

In its Communication on the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union, the European Commission undertook to "take steps towards a more interoperable surveillance system to bring together existing monitoring and tracking systems used for maritime safety and security, protection of the marine environment, fisheries control, control of external borders and other law enforcement activities."

The General Affairs Council of 8 December 2008, encouraged the Commission to work towards interoperability between national and Community systems so as to increase the cost effectiveness of maritime surveillance operations. This approach towards further integration of maritime surveillance was confirmed in the roadmap for the development of the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR), which foresees the gradual creation of a Common Information Sharing Environment for the EU maritime domain, as well as in the recent updating of the Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system.

The aim of integrated maritime surveillance is to generate a situational awareness of activities at sea impacting on maritime safety and security, border control, the marine environment, fisheries control, trade and economic interests of the European Union as well as general law enforcement and defence so as to facilitate sound decision making.

Principle 1: An approach interlinking all user communities
The common information sharing environment should enable Member States' authorities to make a more efficient use of maritime surveillance information. Common rules and standards should be developed at Community level to optimise the exchange of information between the different user communities. Each of these communities should be given the possibility to provide and/or receive information at national level from international, regional, Community, military, and internal security systems and mechanisms on a need-to-know basis, in line with conditions of use and defined user access rights, in order to build up its individual user-defined situational picture.

Principle 2: Building a technical framework for interoperability and future integration
Building a 'Common Information Sharing Environment' for the EU 'maritime domain' may be best achieved through a non-hierarchical technical framework of maritime monitoring and surveillance systems. Such architecture should be designed as a cost effective interaction of different information layers to enable the improvement of user defined pictures. The system architecture must allow data to be inter alia collected, merged, analysed, disseminated and managed at the appropriate level of decentralisation, depending on security concerns (e.g. intelligence) and in compliance with data protection regulations, international rules and functional requirements. Best use should be made of existing systems.

Principle 4: Specific legal provisions: Obstacles to the exchange of monitoring and surveillance data for the purpose of setting up a common information sharing environment should be identified in EU and national legislation. In removing these obstacles, due consideration must be given inter alia to the respect of data confidentiality, intellectual property rights issues and the protection of personal data as well as ownership of data in accordance with national and international law.