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Policy brief


Adapting to turbulent waters: EU maritime security and implications for Norway



Maritime security has become a top priority for the EU, as evident in its Strategic Compass for security and defence (2022) where it was identified as a strategic domain. The intensification of geopolitical tensions has further extended strategic competition to the seas. At the same time, a proliferation of threats has emerged at sea, including the security of migration routes, human rights at sea, implications of climate change and global warming, and the pressing challenges posed by organised crime and marine terrorism. The attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines have heightened the urgency for safeguarding critical infrastructure at sea, for surveillance, and coastal and offshore patrolling. Governance of the high seas invites further challenges. They are considered part of the Global Commons that, as with outer space, the atmosphere and the poles, are largely beyond the jurisdiction of nation states. Against the backdrop of escalating tensions and decline in international cooperation, enhancing the EU’s maritime presence has been recognised not only as a paramount security imperative, but also as an economic interest of the Member States: The EU has the largest maritime territory in the world (counting exclusive economic zones), is home to 329 key seaports and most goods to and from Europe travel via the sea (90% of trade exports). In addition, up to 99% of global dataflows travel via subsea cables, and the EU’s energy dependence on oil and gas, which largely travels to the EU via the sea, remains high. Maritime security is thus among the fastest-growing EU policy areas. In addition to the threats listed above, Russia and China's increasing assertiveness at sea has intensified longer term processes towards an increasingly robust and multifaceted EU maritime foreign and security policy.
  • Published year: 2023
  • Publisher: NUPI
  • Language: English