EU leaders worry about critical infratructure vulnerability

Published 23 April 2007

Protecting the critical infrastructure in one country is complicated enough; EU leaders must coordinate such protection in more than two dozen member states

The leaders of the European Union are clear: The safety and well being of the union’s member states and their citizens depend on the safety of the continent’s infrastructure — roads, airports, electricity plants, and bridges. The destruction or disruption of such infrastructure would entail the loss of lives, the loss of property, and a collapse of public confidence and morale in the EU. If disruption does occur, the effects must be controlled and minimised.

Following two important studies — “Communication on a European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection” and “Proposal for a Directive of the Council on the identification and Designation of European Critical Infrastructure and the Assessment of the Need to Improve their Protection” —the Council of the European Union has adopted its first infratructure protection-related conclusions.

Vice-President Franco Frattini, commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom, and Security, said: “We must protect critical infrastructure in the EU. In today’s world of high-speed transport, technology and, sadly, terrorism, events in one Member State can rapidly affect others. We must work together to agree a framework within which Member States can protect Europe’s critical infrastructures”.

The European Community-level action will support and complement member states’ activities, and will emphasize that the ultimate responsibility for protecting critical infrastructures within their national borders lies with member states.

As is the case in the United States, working with partners in the private sector is important becasue many of Europe’s critical infrastructures are privately owned or operated. For the period 2007-13, around 138 million EUR are available for the program “Prevention, Preparedness, and Consequence Management of Terrorism and other Security related risks.” This is part of the general program on security and safeguarding liberties.