The 15th 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 7 July 2021. The meeting, that due to the COVID-19 pandemic was held online, was facilitated by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).
The purpose of the meeting was to receive updates on progress from partner countries in the SEEE region, get information from project consortia about newly launched and ongoing projects, discuss challenges and success stories, share good practices and lessons learned, inform about the planning of future activities both at the national and at the regional levels.
The meeting gathered NFPs and their representatives from 9 out of 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 experts from UNICRI, the European Commission (Joint Research Centre and Service for Foreign Policy Instruments), and the CoE projects implementers.
Partner countries were updated on the development of the Regional Action Plan for the South East and Eastern Europe region and priority areas identified by ten partner countries in the area of CBRN Risk Mitigation and Security, which eventually led to the CBRN Risk Assessment and Management Initiative in the region. This initiative consists of a 3-step comprehensive approach, aimed at enhancing the capabilities of beneficiary partner countries.
During the meeting, UNICRI presented the more recent developments related to the Chemical and Biological Crime Scene Management (CBCSM) Guidebook, which is funded by the European Commission. The presentation of the Guidebook included updates on the consultations with relevant international organizations; the engagement of experienced international and regional subject matter experts; and the scope, structure and preliminary description of the Guidebook chapters.
The NFPs Round Table meeting was also an opportunity to discuss about the new project initiated within the framework of the EU CBRN Centres of Excellence Initiative, namely Project 88 “Medical Emergency Preparedness and Response”, which was launched during the second half of 2021. Implemented by the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU), the project aims at strengthening and enhancing medical emergency preparedness and response capabilities in the SEEE region.
Finally, partner countries were informed about the ongoing analysis of the regional needs and priorities expressed as part of the contribution to the SEEE Regional Action Plan. The identified areas to be prioritized in the region may guide the development of new activities and projects. It was agreed that a separate meeting dedicated to the discussion of the SEEE Regional Action Plan and the development of new regional projects will be organized in October 2021. The National Focal Points are committed to finalize their contributions and inputs regarding their country priorities after completing the internal consultation process with CBRN National Teams and relevant experts.