The 16th National Focal Points (NFP) Round Table Meeting for South East and Eastern Europe (SEEE), within the framework of the European Union (EU) Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative, took place on 13 October 2021. The meeting, that due to the COVID-19 pandemic was held online, was facilitated by the Head of the Regional Secretariat for South East and Eastern Europe Region, Ms. Mari Lursmanashvili.
The meeting gathered National Focal Points (NFPs) and their representatives from all the 10 countries within the SEEE region. The partner countries in the region are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine. The meeting was also attended by UNICRI, the European Commission (Service for Foreign Policy Instruments and Joint Research Centre), and the Regional Secretariat of the SEEE region.
The primary objective of the meeting was to discuss the path forward for developing the CBRN Regional Action Plan (RAP) of the SEEE region. The RAP is expected to support a mid-term and long-term strategy on capacity building to ensure the sustainability of the CoE projects and activities in the region. The meeting envisaged the presentations of the CBRN National Focal Points and their corresponding national experts, who held national consultations with relevant government authorities in order to receive their feedback and inputs to shape the CBRN Regional Action Plan (RAP) of the SEEE region. Upon development, the SEEE CBRN RAP will be a consolidated list of actions and priorities that the region agrees to work on in a harmonized way to mitigate CBRN risks.
The National Focal Points were with provided a brief overview of the implementing phases involved in the SEEE CBRN RAP, the idea of which was initially endorsed by them one year ago. During the meeting, national experts provided an update about their findings and the priority areas expressed by their respective CBRN National Teams and relevant subject matter experts. The meeting participants discussed in detail some important components related to the development process, including the duration of the RAP, the nature of the document at operational and strategic level, the annual review process of the RAP and recommendations in terms of activities to be included in the Regional Action Plan.
The priority areas identified will guide the SEEE region towards the development of new activities and projects. Based on detailed feedback received from partner countries of the SEEE region, the NFPs Round Table meeting discussed several new projects to be initiated within the framework of the EU CBRN Centres of Excellence Initiative. It is important to underline that this approach will be in perfect alignment with the “bottoms up initiative”, aimed to enhance regional networking of countries and consider their respective national priorities prior to the designing of projects or activities.
As a follow up of the 16th National Focal Points Round Table Meeting, partner countries agreed to schedule a brief consultation in the first week of November in order to make their final decision in terms of choosing appropriate projects to be developed and further submitted to the European Commission’s for possible approval. For the first time in its history, the SEEE region will use the top priorities expressed in its CBRN Regional Action Plan in order to develop and implement new projects.