EU-strategi for bekjempelse av trusler fra droner

EU-strategi for bekjempelse av trusler fra droner

Meddelelse fra Kommisjonen til Europaparlamentet, Rådet. EU-sikkerhet - bekjempelse av trusler fra droner

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on countering potential threats posed by drones

Omtale publisert i Stortingets EU/EØS-nytt 30.10.2023


Nærmere omtale

BAKGRUNN (fra Kommisjonens meddelelse 18.10.2023)

I. Introduction

This Communication sets out the EU’s policy on countering the potential threats from non-cooperative unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as ‘drones’. It is part of a wider counter-drone package that also comprises two handbooks, which provide practical guidance on key technical aspects of this policy. This package was announced as a flagship action under the Commission Communication A Drone Strategy 2.0 for a Smart and Sustainable Unmanned Aircraft Eco-System in Europe 1 . This Communication responds to the need to: (i) provide a comprehensive and harmonised policy framework; (ii) build a common understanding of applicable procedures to face the continuously evolving threats possibly posed by drones; and (iii) take into account the rapid developments in technology.


A.Complementing the EU framework on drones

The legitimate use of drones is a key part of the path towards the twin green and digital transitions, as laid out in the EU’s ‘Drone Strategy 2.0’. They play an important role notably in the domains of transport, defence, commerce, and services. The number of drones in use in the EU is set to grow significantly in the coming years, and they will improve greatly in terms of speed, agility, maximum range, payload capabilities, precision of sensors, and use of artificial intelligence. These developments will lead to a wider range of legitimate and lawful uses for drones. However, in order for this potential to be achieved, it is necessary to address the potential threat that can be posed by non-cooperative drones. A non-cooperative drone is to be defined according to the nature of non-cooperation that could include criminal, illegal (intended regulatory breach) or amateur (ignorant, careless).

This Communication addresses threats posed by drones that are designed for civil use, and it seeks to tackle threats from these drones in a civil environment. Although drones designed for defence purposes are not the focus of this Communication, there remain several interlinkages with the defence domain. These connections include the potential use of smaller drones designed for defence purposes by criminals or terrorists, as well as the synergies between technologies to counter drones. Drones designed for defence purposes could occupy the same airspace as civil drones, and in these cases they need to be identifiable by competent authorities for situational awareness.

The scope of this Communication is specifically on countering the potential threats posed by drones. It therefore does not aim to cover the wider dimension of the role of drones in the internal security domain, namely their use for law enforcement, public security, or public safety.

Member State authorities are primarily responsible for countering the threats posed by non-cooperative drones. However, Member States also benefit from action at EU-level, making possible closer cooperation and coordination in the different means and tools used for that purpose. Therefore, this Communication promotes various actions related to community building and information sharing. It is also supporting Member States with guidance, training, funding and operational procedures.

Potentially dangerous incidents involving drones have become more frequent – both within the EU and beyond its borders. It is therefore important to facilitate the uptake of physical or digital counter-drone solutions by law enforcement and other public authorities in the EU and by operators of critical infrastructure. Drawing up an EU counter-drone policy will help to strengthen procedures for testing the efficiency of available new solutions, and to facilitate the targeted use of research and innovation in that domain. By drawing up this counter-drone policy, the Commission is helping to strengthen an EU market for counter-drone solutions. This will pave the way for increased strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty for the EU, including in areas of critical technologies. It will foster European capacities to develop cutting-edge solutions in the defence, aerospace, and civil-security domains and reduce dependence on non-European suppliers. This will build on the outcomes of the assessment of critical technology dependencies  and will provide further data and analysis. It will also: (i) inform the Commission’s understanding of the use of critical technologies and dependencies on non-European suppliers; and (ii) provide a sound overview of the level of dependency.

Moreover, with a view of countering threats posed by non-cooperative drones from a public authority’s perspective, it is also important to: (i) have clear and harmonised frameworks and procedures in place; (ii) provide clear authority for responsible public and private stakeholders to intervene against non-cooperative drones ; and (iii) facilitate collaboration between stakeholders that are not always accustomed to working together (law enforcement, civil aviation authorities, operators, manufacturers, mobile-network operators). This Communication puts forward actions to: (i) build a common understanding of applicable procedures when dealing with threats posed by drones; and (ii) identify possible needs in terms of harmonisation of regulatory measures


B. Addressing a current – and rapidly evolving – threat

Both the EU’s ‘Security Union’ strategy and the Counter-Terrorism Agenda stress that the threat of non-cooperative drones is a serious concern in Europe.

The rapidly advancing capabilities of drones pose a growing security risk. In recent years, plans have been uncovered to try and make use of drones for terrorist attacks.  There have also been sightings of suspicious drones around critical infrastructure, such as energy facilities, airports, and ports, indicating the potential misuse of drones for hostile information gathering. Drones are used by criminals engaged in smuggling across borders, or to facilitate other illicit operations, including drug trafficking. Drones can furthermore be a source of cyber risks, for example if being used for digital reconnaissance. Threats posed by drones are not simply a technical problem. Today, most drones designed for civil purposes may be detected and identified, but it is still very challenging to engage or neutralise them (i.e. to take control of them, land them safely, or shoot them down), often due to the lack of legal authorisation to do so. This is especially true for private operators of critical infrastructure. Countering the threats posed by drones should therefore be taken into consideration in future risk assessments under the Directive on the resilience of critical entities.

The threat picture becomes even clearer when looking at incidents in countries near the EU and in other parts of the world. Drones proved a cost-efficient and effective dual use platform that boosted defence innovation in the Russian war against Ukraine. The use of drones designed for civil purposes for destructive attacks even in other armed conflicts (such as in Yemen or Syria) is a phenomenon likely to have implications for the EU’s internal security. The modus operandi of terrorist groups and the enhanced skills in the use of "off the shelf drones" could reach our borders and represent a threat. The same is true for the use of drones for attempted targeted assassinations .

However, counter-drone solutions are not only necessary against targeted malicious use. They are also needed to prevent incidents caused by negligence or recklessness. Most drone users in the EU (notably licensed professional remote pilots or organised leisure pilots) comply with existing rules, regulations, and technical limitations. Nevertheless, ignorant, careless, and criminal drone users are responsible for the many dangerous incidents involving drones across the EU. Large-scale public events are particularly vulnerable to such disturbances, as are some critical sectors like air transport. In addition, the unlawful use of drones can also affect the personal safety and right to privacy of individual members of the public, notably when drones are operated in residential areas.


C. Keeping pace with technological developments

Protecting our societies against malicious and non-cooperative drones requires access to affordable and reliable counter-measures that enable flexible solutions. Solutions usually address the three aspects of detection, tracking and identification, while public authorities are also interested in two additional aspects: neutralisation and forensics.

In both the defence and civil-security domain, innovative counter-drone solutions are already being developed and tested. Their entry into the market and their uptake by end-users can be facilitated by an overarching EU framework on countering drones, as it is promoted in this Communication. However, it is not possible to have a standardised ‘one-fits-all’ approach to the implementation of counter-drone measures due to the large variety of possible operational scenarios and environments.

Counter-drone measures must therefore be adapted to different needs and different operating environments. From the perspective of authorities in charge of internal security, there may be situations where the full physical destruction of a drone is the preferred and only option, for example to prevent an imminent attack on people or infrastructure. In other cases, such as criminal use or the hostile gathering of information, there is a strong interest in securing control of the drone to land it while leaving it as intact as possible, so as to allow for optimal forensic investigation. This includes the need for sophisticated cyber solutions to take control over a drones operating system.

One of the technological trends that should be monitored and actively used is the development of sensors for the more accurate detection of drones. Existing sensor capabilities can be further developed not only to detect a drone, but also to assess the threat it poses by flight-pattern analysis, payload detection, and equipment detection. Sensors and detection systems need to be able to cope with the changing shapes and capabilities of drones (speed, agility, ability to deploy decoys, etc.). The capacity of public authorities and private operators of critical infrastructure to analyse data from those sensors will be increasingly important. Artificial intelligence will also play a role, for example by automatically generating alerts, calculating risks, predicting routes, or predicting landing sites. Thus, new trends in drone markets need to be continuously monitored and incorporated into counter-drone solutions. The monitoring of these technological developments should enable the authorities in the EU to identify priorities for investment and to support the developments that are best suited to meeting the operational needs expressed by Member State law enforcement authorities and private operators.

On engagement and neutralisation, further testing is needed on technologies that are suitable in different environments and scenarios. In the defence domain, solutions have been identified to physically destroy or entirely capture a drone while it is in the air, thus reducing the generation of debris which could lead to injuries to people or damage to objects. This includes directed energy in the form of high-energy lasers, as well as the use of high-powered radio-frequency and net-capture systems as well as digital tools to gain control over non-cooperative drones.

For law enforcement and investigation, it would be particularly helpful to be able to neutralise a drone threat by taking control over its control system and safely landing it, giving authorities and investigators the best possible access to potential physical and digital evidence. Therefore, a wide range of different solutions should be available and validated for different purposes to serve the internal security domain. It is therefore necessary to foster a genuine market and innovation environment for counter-drone solutions that serve the needs of the civil-security domain. Otherwise, developments in counter-drone solutions are unlikely to keep pace with the increasing numbers and capabilities of the drones themselves. It is also essential to structure and segment this market to help relevant authorities to identify the solutions that best meet their needs.

In addition, it is important to monitor so-called counter-counter-drone systems used by criminals. Counter-counter-drone systems are devices that are either carried by the drone or deployed from the ground and are designed to obstruct specific counter-drone measures.

Finally, many counter-drone systems are also developed for defence purposes. Although different in requirements, they often share common characteristics and technologies with systems intended for civil purpose, leading to a need for close cooperation with the defence domain.

This evolving technological landscape also requires a consistent and continuously updated regulatory framework for the use of counter-drone systems.