(Reuters) – The European Commission proposed stepping up measures to protect its critical infrastructure, with energy among its chief areas of focus following the possible sabotage last month of the Nord Stream gas pipelines.
The Commission says EU members should prioritise energy, digital, transport and space infrastructure and accelerate work to improve preparedness for and responses to attacks and to increase international cooperation.
In the recommendation, which seeks to guide but does not bind EU countries, the EU executive encourages the bloc’s 27 members to accelerate stress tests of entities operating critical infrastructure, particularly related to energy.
European states have raced to protect energy infrastructure ranging from Norwegian energy installations to German power lines after blaming the Nord Stream pipeline leaks on sabotage after they were discovered on Sept 26.
The Commission would advise national authorities on how to conduct such tests and how best to protect against physical or cyber threats to ensure a coordinated EU approach.
It would set out guidelines on cooperation required in the event of an incident disturbing the EU internal market and look into how best to handle an incident hitting undersea cables.
The recommendation also envisages greater coordination with international partners, notably NATO.
The Commission’s aim is to accelerate and supplement measures in legislation on critical entities that are expected to come into force at the end of this year or the start of next.
Proposed in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they charge EU governments with identifying critical entities across a range of sectors including energy, banking, drinking water and public administration and carrying out risk assessments.
Larger entities, from electricity grids to hospitals or waste water systems, will also face new requirements and stronger supervision of their cyber security.
EU executive chief Ursula von der Leyen will present the proposal to EU leaders at a two-day summit in Brussels that begins on Thursday.