RSIS, the European Union (EU) Delegation to Singapore, and the European Union Institute for Security Studies co-hosted a one-day conference titled “EU–Singapore Dialogue: Addressing Security Challenges in a Changing World”. The conference was the first in a series of four high-level EU–Singapore Think Tank Dialogues to be organised in 2019. It discussed future prospects for security cooperation between the European Union and Singapore, focusing on cybersecurity, counter-terrorism, and maritime security.
The first panel on cybersecurity provided a comprehensive overview of global cybersecurity challenges and the policies that the European Union and Singapore have in place to address the threats. A key concern that speakers highlighted was that technological developments are outpacing the ability to defend against cyber threats. The speakers also highlighted the difficulties in operationalising cybersecurity initiatives. They noted that the Huawei case demonstrated further complications that arise when the lines between political and commercial interests are blurred.
The second panel focused on counter-terrorism. The speakers agreed that while terrorism remains a top-level threat, it has since evolved. Today, there is a decentralisation of terrorist networks, and the influence of terror groups is amplified with the use of social media. The immediate shared concern between the European Union and Singapore is the return of foreign fighters. These developments, the speakers stressed, underscored the critical importance of information sharing and exchange and transparency between partners.
The last panel highlighted another common security concern between the European Union and Singapore: maritime security. The key point from the discussions was that while great power rivalry issues have dominated the maritime discussion thus far, there is a need to think beyond these and examine how other issues such as cybersecurity can affect maritime security. The challenges of maritime security are best tackled through cooperation with like-minded partners, the speakers concluded.
In his closing remarks, RSIS Executive Deputy Chairman Amb Ong Keng Yong observed that there was great potential for more EU–Singapore cooperation in mutually beneficial areas. He reiterated that today’s global challenges require more cooperation among multilateral stakeholders.