Policy Themes

Critical infrastructure protection

The protection of critical infrastructure is key in providing security for society. This form of protection concerns critical infrastructure in various domains including electrical power, transport, water and financial infrastructures. In addition, urban soft targets are included in this scope as well.

The new approach to the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP) is built on a review of the 2006 programme and the Council Directive 2008/114/EC on the identification and designation of European critical infrastructures and the assessment of the need to improve their protection. It aims to ensure a high degree of protection of EU infrastructures and increase their resilience (against all threats and hazards). It looks at interdependencies between critical infrastructures, industry and state actors, taking account of the cross border dimension and interdependencies between sectors (e.g. European high-voltage electricity grid). The EPCIP established (1) procedures for the identification and designation of European critical infrastructures and assessment of the need to improve their protection (Directive 2008/114/EC); (2) measures to facilitate its implementation, including an action plan, CIWIN, CIP expert groups at EU level and information sharing process; (3) funding for CIP-related measures and projects focussing on 'Prevention, Preparedness and Consequence Management of Terrorism and other Security Related Risks' such as ERNCIP (see 6.9.2); and (4) an external dimension for engagement with third countries on CIP.

As of 2013, less than 20 European Critical Infrastructures had been designated and hence very few Operator Security Plans had been produced; the number of ECI designated has since increased substantially. The Directive 2008/114/EC has mainly encouraged bilateral engagement of Member States instead of a real European forum for cooperation – the sector-focused approach of the directive represents a challenge to a number of MS as in practice the analysis of criticalities is not confined to sectoral boundaries and follows rather a 'system' or 'service' approach (e.g. hospitals, financial services). In practical terms, development of preparedness strategies are based around contingency planning, stress tests, awareness raising, training, joint courses, exercises and staff exchange. The gaps identified in the review of the EPCIP led the Commission to present its new approach to the implementation of the EPCIP in 2013, with a greater focus on interdependencies and proposing practical work with four critical infrastructures of a European dimension (Eurocontrol, Galileo, the electricity transmission grid and the gas transmission network).

The guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure are built upon the Communication of 28 February 2011 entitled 'Energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 and beyond – A blueprint for an integrated European energy network', which stipulates that the Union's energy infrastructure should be upgraded in order to prevent technical failure and to increase its resilience against such failure, natural or man-made disasters, adverse effects of climate change and threats to its security, in particular as regards European Critical Infrastructures and the assessment of the need to improve their protection. Of equal importance are the EU transport policies, which cover a wide range of security and safety policies in the air, road, maritime and rail areas which all relate to technical standards for preventing / detection risks and responding to major threats, including terrorist attacks, crimes and accidents.

Details of projects in this theme can be found on the Explore DRM Projects tool.