13 February 2017, Brussels – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Mr. João Vale de Almeida, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on Protection of Critical Infrastructure against Terrorist Attacks
Mr. President, Excellencies,
It is my honour to take the floor on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia, align themselves with this statement.
Let me first congratulate Ukraine for their current Presidency of the Security Council and thank Sweden for their Presidency last month.
I would like to commend Ukraine for organizing this debate and for the opportunity to speak about the protection of critical infrastructures, a topic of major preoccupation for the European Union and its Member States.
I would also like to stress the importance of working together on this issue, also at international level, to ensure a high protection of our critical infrastructures and to increase their resilience against terrorist attacks and other disruptions.
The questions raised in the concept note are very important, and I would like to address them one by one.
On the first question about our tools, we have in Europe the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP) in place since 2006, which sets the overall framework for activities aimed at improving the protection of critical infrastructure in the European Union, across all relevant sectors of economic activity. This programme aims to respond not only to terrorist threats, but also include man-made, technological threats and natural disaster. In short, it seeks to provide an all-hazards cross-sectoral approach. The EPCIP is supported by regular exchanges of information between EU Member States in the frame of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Contact Points meetings.
A key pillar of the programme is the 2008 Directive on European Critical Infrastructures, which establishes a procedure for identifying and designating European Critical Infrastructures (ECIs) and a common approach for assessing the need to improve their protection. ECIs are critical infrastructures located in Member States where the disruption or destruction of it would have a significant impact on at least two Member States. It has a sectorial scope, and applies to the energy and transport sectors.
The Directive furthermore requires owners/operators of designated European Critical Infrastructures to prepare Operator Security Plans (advanced business continuity plans) and nominate Security Liaison Officers (linking the owner/operator with the national authority responsible for critical infrastructure protection). The application of the Directive is monitored by CIP Points of Contacts appointed from each EU Member State. The group of Points of Contacts also engages together with the European Commission in international cooperation outside of the EU, so far with USA and Canada, but will this year also start to engage with neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
Reacting to new threat developments, the EU adopted in 2016 a Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats, which covers also the matter of protection of critical infrastructure against hybrid and asymmetrical threats (i.e. in the field of energy and transport). It is designed to strengthen Member States’ resilience in this area and foresees cooperation with EU partners in countering such threats.
Considering the second question, on methods to promoting improved responsiveness to terrorist attacks and resilience of critical infrastructures, the European Commission has funded over 120 different projects under the Prevention, Preparedness and Consequence Management of Terrorism and other Security-Related Risks Programme (CIPS programme) in 2007-2013. The CIPS programme was designed to protect citizens and critical infrastructures from terrorist attacks and other security incidents by fostering prevention and preparedness, improving the protection of such infrastructures and addressing crisis management. A key objective was to provide expert knowledge and a scientific basis for better understanding criticalities and interdependencies. The increase in cyber threats also led the EU to adopt legislation on the security of network and information systems (the NIS Directive) on 6 July 2016.
As for the third point, on how to strengthen the capacity of both public and private sectors to prevent attacks and react to threats to critical infrastructure, trainings and exercises have been very useful tools, which the European Union has encouraged and engaged in. A good example is the VITEX 2016 exercise, which was designed and coordinated by the Dutch presidency of EU. It was the first EU-wide exercise focussing on the effects of large-scale failure of critical (electricity) infrastructure across Europe. The VITEX 2016 exercise resulted into an exercise guide with the exercise design, which describes step-by-step how such an exercise can be organised. This guide is available for everyone to encourage possible follow up exercises in the future.
Addressing the fourth point on mechanisms and platforms for cooperation, I want to point at the vital importance of regular exchanges of information and best practices. The European Commission has for such purposes developed the Critical Infrastructure Warning Information Network (CIWIN), which is an Internet-based multi-level system for exchanging critical infrastructure protection ideas, studies and good practices among Member States and key stakeholders. This portal, which is operational since mid-January 2013, also seeks to raise awareness and contribute to the protection of critical infrastructure in Europe.
As for the last point, the role of UN and its agencies in this work, there is certainly a potential for further cooperation as the security and protection of critical infrastructure is a concern we all face as is the fight against terrorism. The European Union would be interested to cooperate internationally in the area of protection of critical infrastructure, with partners beyond its border, against this common threat. We are already engaged in various fora, such as the OSCE and the Council of Europe, but would also welcome UN initiatives in this field, and we stand ready to explore possibilities for such cooperation.
I thank you, Mr. President.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
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