On Monday, 19 November 2018, the European Union will begin the conduct of a major civil-military crisis management exercise "EU-HEX-ML 18 (PACE)". The aim of the exercise is to improve and enhance the EU’s ability to respond to a complex crisis of a hybrid nature with an internal and an external dimension.
It is the first time that the EU leads a crisis management and response exercise of this scale. The exercise will involve experts from the European Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the General Secretariat of the Council, as well as EU Member States and agencies, such as the European Border and Coastguard and Europol. Norway will participate in the Exercise as a third country, while Switzerland will participate as an observer.
The exercise will focus on the link of external and internal security. It will be run across all critical areas that can be affected by hybrid attacks, including energy, cyber, health, maritime, consular, Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and strategic communication.
The launch was preceded by a two-week lead-in phase. In this phase, the EEAS planned the deployment of a civilian and a military Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) mission to assist a fictitious third country, which is facing a major security threat and has requested support from the EU. As of Monday, 19 November, the EU and its Member States will be testing their response capacities by reacting to fictitious high intensity hybrid attacks inside the European Union, while using all the available crisis mechanisms, including the EU Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR), EU Civil Protection Mechanism, Energy or Health crisis mechanisms.
This exercise will be conducted in parallel with a NATO staff command post exercise, to further develop interaction between both organisations in situational awareness, cyber, crisis response and strategic communication in crisis situations. The EU and NATO have decided to step up their cooperation in both areas - hybrid and exercises, as outlined in the EU-NATO Joint Declarations of July 2016 and July 2018. As one result, parallel and coordinated exercises were conducted for the first time in 2017, with NATO leading the exercise and the EU conducting a smaller exercise in parallel. This year, the EU will exercise the entire crisis response cycle and all instruments that are at its disposal in case of a hybrid attack.