Security Union: Commission welcomes today’s political agreement on new rules to enhance the resilience of critical entities

(Source: European Commission)

The Commission welcomes today’s political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the Directive on the resilience of critical entities (CER Directive), proposed by the Commission in December 2020.

As a key part of the EU’s work to build a Security Union, the new rules will strengthen the resilience of critical infrastructure to a range of threats, including natural hazards, terrorist attacks, insider threats, or sabotage, as well as public health emergencies like the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

Against an ever more complex risk landscape, the new Directive replaces the European Critical Infrastructure Directive of 2008. A wider sectoral scope will allow Member States and critical entities to better address interdependencies and potential cascading effects of an incident. Eleven sectors will be covered: energy, transport, banking, financial market infrastructures, health, drinking water, wastewater, digital infrastructure, public administration, space, and food.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “It is essential to shield our economy and our society against physical threats that could disrupt services that are vital for people’s daily lives and for the functioning of our internal market. With today’s agreement, we are delivering on our commitment to enhance the resilience of critical infrastructure in the EU, complementing the recently strengthened cybersecurity legislation. Together, these new rules form a coherent and robust system to protect our infrastructure online and off”.

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “In the light of the current geopolitical situation in Europe, enhancing our resilience is of key importance. The CER Directive will make us better prepared against disruptions that impact the security of our citizens and the prosperity of the internal market, following the lessons learnt from the pandemic and long-term challenges like climate change. The new Directive will ensure the provision of essential services such as energy, transport, water and healthcare while minimising the impact of natural and man-made incidents”.

The proposal introduces new rules to strengthen the resilience of critical entities:

  • Member States will need to adopt a national strategy and carry out regular risk assessments to identify entities that are considered critical or vital for the society and the economy.
  • Critical entities will need to carry out risk assessments of their own, take technical and organisational measures to enhance their resilience and notify incidents. They will also be able to request background checks on personnel holding sensitive roles.
  • Critical entities in the EU, from the sectors covered, providing essential services in six Member States or more, will benefit from extra advice on how best to meet their obligations to assess risks and take resilience-enhancing measures.
  • A Critical Entities Resilience Group will facilitate cooperation among Member States and the exchange of information and good practices.
  • An enforcement mechanism will help ensure that the rules are followed: Member States will need to ensure that national authorities have the powers and means to conduct on-site inspections of critical entities. Member States will also introduce penalties in case of non-compliance.
  • Member States will need to provide support to critical entities in enhancing their resilience with, for instance, guidance material. The Commission will provide complementary support to Member States and critical entities, by developing a Union-level overview of cross-border and cross-sectoral risks, best practices, methodologies, cross-border training activities and exercises to test the resilience of critical entities, among others.

Next steps

The political agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council is now subject to formal approval by the co-legislators. Once published in the Official Journal, the Directive will enter into force 20 days after publication. Member States will then need to transpose the elements of the Directive into national law within 21 months.

Background

The EU established the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP) in 2006 and adopted the European Critical Infrastructure (ECI) Directive in 2008, which applies to the energy and transport sectors. Both, the Commission’s EU Security Union Strategy for 2020-2025 and the Counter-Terrorism Agenda for the EU, stress the importance of ensuring the resilience of critical infrastructure in the face of physical and digital risks. As part of its key policy objective to make Europe fit for the digital age, the Commission evaluated the ECI Directive in July 2019.

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