The Annual European Coast Guard Event for 2021 under the theme of “Use of digital age technologies in Coast Guard functions” was held virtually on 29 June 2021. The event was hosted by EFCA at the end of its turn as chair of the tripartite cooperation in support of the European coast guard initiative with the other two maritime EU Agencies, EMSA and Frontex.
The Annual Event provides a platform for national authorities, the EU agencies involved and the European Commission to exchange views on matters related to cooperation on coast guard functions.
The three agencies took stock of the achievements of the year, with a highlight on the preparation of the EU Coast Guard Handbook and the activities in support of national authorities during 2021.
This event allowed to overview the available digital age technologies and discuss their relevance to enhance the “European common maritime situation awareness pictures” and the support to the European Union Member States authorities, in line with the EU Maritime Security Strategy.
Particular focus was placed in the implementation of the different EU Coast Guard functions in the context of the post-pandemic era, with affected economic and civil activities in all areas of the maritime domain. The Coronavirus crisis offered the opportunity to embrace technologies to foster an adequate operational response.
With a view to benefit from the experience gained during the pandemic crisis, digital tools available are key to combine the shared MS information and the data made available through the EU Agencies. An example would be the development of an “early bird awareness” based upon a robust geographical information system [GIS].
Exploring the way forward, the maritime agencies and all participating Member States as well as the European Commission assessed the challenges related to the integration of different sources of information, evaluating solutions such as the automated analysis and monitoring of behaviours, as well as the possible assistance of Artificial Intelligence to process and analyse high volume of data.
Under the framework of the European Coast Guard Cooperation, Frontex, EFCA and EMSA support Member States with information sharing, surveillance and communication services, capacity building activities as well as risk analysis and information exchange on threats in the maritime domain.
In 2017, the three agencies signed a tripartite working agreement that provides a framework for their common work at sea, which has been recently renewed in 2021.