EU action in partner countries to counter chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats from outside the EU has improved capacities and cooperation at national and regional level, but activities still need to be prioritised according to the level of risk, says a new report from the European Court of Auditors. Funding should be concentrated in areas relevant to security and an adequate risk management approach should be developed.
The EU CBRN Centres of Excellence Initiative aims to mitigate chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats and risks from outside the EU. Its main aim is to encourage cooperation between and within partner countries. It is the EU's largest civilian external security programme, with a budget of €130 million for the years 2014-2020.
The auditors have followed up a 2014 special report, which dealt with the set-up of the scheme. They conclude that the Initiative is contributing to mitigating threats but its credibility and sustainability hinge on its ability to adapt and address key challenges.
"Events such as the use of sarin and chlorine gas in Iraq and Syria, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown are stark reminders of the dangers from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear risks," said Bettina Jakobsen, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. "The Initiative has not yet developed an adequate risk management approach. Much effort has been put into increasing the number of partner countries, rather than concentrating efforts and funding on the countries most relevant to EU security."