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New marine rotational force deploys to Norway

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Approximately 350 marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, have deployed to Norway for a two-month training deployment. The marines and sailors of the 'Teufelhunden Battalion' are the next rotational deployment of Marine Rotational Force-Europe. After a quarantine period at their training location in Norway, to mitigate the risk of COVID exposure and transmission, the marines will conduct bilateral arctic warfare training, improve interoperability, and strengthen defense capabilities alongside Norwegian allies.

This is the first rotation of shorter MRF-E deployments, announced by the Marine Corps in August 2020. Marine Rotational Force-Europe’s deployment will be synchronized with the Norwegian Armed Forces’ arctic training and will allow for increased operational flexibility for the Marine Corps.

“Norway offers challenging terrain and unique training opportunities to improve our cold-weather and mountain-warfare skills, enabling our force to fight and win in arctic conditions,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Gordinier, commander of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “The ‘Teufelhunden Battalion’ looks forward to continuing our historic relationship and strengthening our alliance with the Norwegian military.”

During their deployment, the new MRF-E will participate in cold-weather warfare and survival training, led by Norwegian Army instructors; participate in a variety of field training events in rugged, arctic conditions alongside Norwegian Army allies; and participate in Exercise Reindeer II, a major Norwegian Army-led field exercise in northern Norway.

Marine Rotational Force-Europe 21.1 is expected to operate in Norway several times over the coming year, with a larger follow-on rotation scheduled in early 2021. The Marine Rotational Force plans to conduct various exercises alongside allied forces for continued inoperability and arctic training.

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Defence

Fighting terrorist content online: President von der Leyen to deliver video message at Christchurch Call summit on Friday

EU Reporter Correspondent

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This Friday (14 May), President von der Leyen will deliver a video message at the Christchurch Call summit. Hosted by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, and the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, the meeting will gather Heads of State or Government and tech sector leaders with the objective of stepping up cooperation on addressing terrorist and violent extremist content online. The Christchurch Call is a commitment by governments and tech companies to eliminate such content online, following the livestreamed terrorist attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019. The Commission is a founding supporter of the Christchurch Call. Discussions at this year's summit will focus on crisis response, with a view to ensuring timely, consistent and well-coordinated action when responding to crisis situations involving the spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online. Participants will also discuss transparency reporting, necessary to measure the extent of the threat posed by terrorist content online and monitor compliance of measures taken with fundamental rights.

They will then reflect on the need to better understand algorithms that promote content online, to evaluate the risks they could pose in terms of radicalization. In line with the commitments taken under the Christchurch Call, the Commission has acted to fight terrorist and violent extremist content online. The Commission launched the EU Internet Forum to facilitate co-operation with tech companies on addressing terrorist content online. In 2019, EU Internet Forum participants committed to an EU Crisis Protocol, allowing governments and online platforms to respond rapidly and in a coordinated manner to the dissemination of terrorist content online in the event of a terrorist attack.

The Commission is also working at the global level with tech companies under the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism. Beyond this voluntary approach, the EU has also agreed binding legislation. New EU rules adopted last month will oblige online platforms to remove terrorist content referred by member states' authorities within one hour while providing for strong safeguards to ensure the full respect of fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and information.

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Defence

Biden to join eastern European NATO states summit, focus seen on Ukraine

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US President Joe Biden (pictured) joined a virtual summit of eastern European NATO states held in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Monday (10 May), Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said, with a focus on security in the Black Sea region and Ukraine.

The summit of the Bucharest Nine, a group of European countries on the eastern edge of NATO, will be jointly hosted by Iohannis and Poland's President Andrzej Duda and aims at coordinating the security positions of countries in the region.

"Glad to welcome Joe Biden to the Bucharest9 Summit which I host in Bucharest today," Iohannis said on his Twitter account.

"Together with President Andrzej Duda we'll also welcome ... Jens Stoltenberg in preparation of NATO Summit, focusing on Transatlantic ties, NATO 2030, defence and deterrence on the eastern flank."

Biden, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia will video-conference into the gathering.

"In ... the statement that the nine will publish after the meeting there will be the issue of security in the Black Sea region and the related security issues in Ukraine," the head of Poland's National Security Bureau, Pawel Soloch, told reporters.

Earlier this month, Washington said it could increase security help for Kyiv after Russia moved troops near its border with Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, where Ukrainian troops are in conflict with Moscow-backed separatists.

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Cyber-espionage

Commission makes €11 million available to strengthen cybersecurity capabilities and co-operation

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The European Commission will make €11 million of funding available for 22 new projects seeking to strengthen the European Union's capacity to deter and mitigate cyber-threats and incidents, by employing the latest technologies. The projects, which have been selected following a recent call for proposals under the Connecting Europe Facility programme, will support various cybersecurity organisations in 18 Member States. The beneficiaries of the funding include Computer Security Incident Response teams, operators of essential services in the health, energy, transport and other sectors, as well as bodies dealing with the cybersecurity certification and testing, as defined in the EU Cybersecurity Act. They will start working after the summer on tools and skills necessary to comply with the requirements set by the NIS Directive and the Cybersecurity Act, while at the same time they will engage in activities aimed to enhance cooperation at the EU level. So far the EU has funded almost €47.5m to reinforce EU cybersecurity between 2014 and 2020, through the Connecting Europe Facility programme. Furthermore, more than €1 billion under the Digital Europe Programme will be directed towards the areas of focus of the new EU Cybersecurity Strategy. More information is available here. More information about Europe's actions to strengthen cybersecurity capacities is available here and EU-funded cybersecurity projects can be found here.

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