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Service for Foreign Policy Instruments
News article15 April 2024Service for Foreign Policy Instruments3 min read

The European Union CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative: A unique approach to tackle CBRN risks

In recent years, the global CBRN risk landscape has evolved significantly due to many different and often converging factors including new risks and threats stemming from rapid technological developments. 

CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative

Threats are posed by the intentional, accidental or naturally occurring release of conventional and new types of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials or agents.

A strong partnership with third countries is important to promote a global culture of CBRN safety and security by strengthening an all-hazards security governance. This, in turn, contributes to CBRN threat resilience worldwide.

In 2010 the European Union (EU) has established the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative to support CBRN risk mitigation on a global scale through a wide range of CBRN actions. The Initiative is jointly implemented by the EU and UNICRI and counts 64 Partner Countries grouped in 8 regions, representing the EU’s largest civilian external security programme.

The CoE network supports the mitigation of and preparedness against CBRN risks by fostering good governance in the domain, enhancing regional and international multi-agency cooperation, and facilitating the transfer of best practices. The bottom-up and demand-oriented nature of the activities carried out within the network, ensure that the support provided is sustainably tailored to countries’ and regions’ needs.

To date, more than 100 capacity-building projects have been funded, 46 countries received support to strengthen the good governance of CBRN risks through the creation of inter-agency CBRN national teams and the development of CBRN national action plans.

Making the world a safer place

Through the CoE Initiative and the projects implemented, good progress has been done in each region:

  • The African Atlantic Façade Regional Secretariat celebrated the graduation of 50 managers trained by the African CBRNE Master Programme, a first of its kind in the continent. In parallel, the region is joining efforts for increasing the security of the transportation and installations of chemicals. Looking ahead, a new project focusing on food chain security is set to kick off in 2024.
  • In Central Asia, partner countries are focussing on strengthening their capacities on preparedness and response for mass gatherings and on enhancing the protection of CBRN critical infrastructure. In addition, an EU P2P Export Control Programme for dual-use goods has just started. In the pipeline there is a project tackling zoonotic diseases.
  • In Eastern and Central Africa, partner countries are working on strengthening their biosafety and biosecurity capabilities and they will receive CBRN equipment for protection and detection purposes.  As a priority for a future action, the region has identified the chemical security.
  • The Gulf Cooperation Council Regional Secretariat has developed a project aiming to enhance medical preparedness and response capabilities to CBRN incidents in the partner countries. This includes a strong focus on Train the Trainers modules.  
  • Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq are supported to address their concerns about the management and storage of chemicals with a regional capacity building project, and they also benefit from a dedicated EU P2P Export Control Programme for dual-use goods. Looking ahead, a project focusing on crime scene forensics and prosecution capabilities in investigating CBRN incidents will soon kick off.
  • In 2023, the North Africa and Sahel region recently completed a project on CBRN security at borders, with a regional field exercise held at Niamey airport, and just started a new one focussing on capacity building in managing chemical and biological waste.
  • The Southeast Asia region continues to work on biosafety and biosecurity as a priority, medical preparedness for CBRN events and, more recently, started to tackle strategic trade with a dedicated EU P2P Export Control Programme for dual-use goods.
  • In South East and Eastern Europe, the on-going priority actions are the strengthening of CBRN critical infrastructure protection, ensuring the biosecurity and biosafety at the borders and enhancing CBRN medical preparedness and response capabilities.

Additional information can be found here.


Publication date
15 April 2024
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments